Published on Academy of American Poets (

Say the Word

To be apart, I’m told.
To be asunder.
To be a privative, negative, reversing force.
To be reached only by oaths and curses.
To have black sheep sacrificed in my name
because I’m a god, yes,
as we are all gods on occasion.
To be bodied as I am bodied.
To be rich of earth,
which is to be chronically chthonic.
To be where the gems are—
To be Dīs. To be Dīs. To be Dīs.
To reject any pickaxe disguised as love.


Copyright © 2020 by Sandra Beasley. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 10, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“Before there was Hades, there was the Roman god Dīs Pater. My work has always engaged mythologies and origin stories, but here I’m also inspired by my community of dis kin. My forthcoming collection, Made to Explode, includes poems that embrace a social model of disability rather than a medical model. In other words—a cure is not always the goal, and the problem often lies not in our disabilities, but in the failure of those around us to accommodate and include. In 2016, activist and writer Lawrence Carter-Long launched a campaign to reclaim ‘disabled’ as an identity, versus ‘special’ or ‘different’ or any other euphemism.”
Sandra Beasley


Sandra Beasley

Sandra Beasley is the author of three poetry collections: Count the Waves (W. W. Norton, 2015); I Was the Jukebox (W. W. Norton, 2010), winner of the Barnard Women Poets Prize; and Theories of Falling (New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2008), winner of the New Issues Poetry Prize. In 2015 she received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She lives in Washington, D.C., and is on the faculty of the low-residency MFA program at the University of Tampa.


Date Published: 2020-01-10

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