BADD 2010: “Exhibition”

For Blogging Against Disablism Day this year, I thought I’d share a poem that I wrote a while ago that I haven’t shared until now. I was going to turn it into a spoken-word piece but never got around to it. Better late than never, I suppose.


On my side
eyes brain neck
spinning along with
everything else
and I haven’t even been drinking

this is not a workout
and yet, I am sweating
the body over (re)acts
does not know quite how to
and I wish I
could say to
every non-believer, every “skeptic”

everyone who’s ever asked:
what’s wrong with you
why do you walk like that
is something the matter with your foot
what is it
why aren’t you getting better
why isn’t your attitude more positive
why can’t you

almost always accompanied
by one of these:
at least you can walk
at least you’re smart, so you can deal with this
at least you’re not homeless
or starving
or living in a Third World country
you’re luckier than most
how bad could your pain be?
just take some aspirin
stop complaining

for every
you should take vitamins
just work through your pain
I have pain, too
you’re too young to have something
like that
why are you so bitchy
that I hear
I smile a little bit, inside

because: someday
many of these people
will also know

but for now
this is my reality
and I wish you could see it
feel it
for only a minute
and then maybe you’d
think before you
talk at me
or offer meaningless platitudes

every word that exits your mouth

random stranger,
friend of a friend,
asshole on the street who tells me to smile
because it can’t be that bad
every word
means less to me
than I do to you

I’m not your vehicle for
public service
I am not to be used
to show the world

what a great “liberal,” progressive kind person you are
or to be subjected to
your pity
masked as concern
so please step out of
my way
once I can stand, that is
for now—lucky for you
I am confined to vertigo
In my own carpeted purgatory

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5 thoughts on “BADD 2010: “Exhibition”

  1. Ruth says:

    This is a great poem. It’s amazing how reactions to just moving down the street when you have a disability, whether you walk or roll, leave you open to being treated in these ways – like you’re an exhibition. I like how you talk about how you wish others could feel your reality, see it just for a moment- comparing it to the objectification that happens all too frequently.

    Glad I found your blog!

  2. NTE says:

    What a moving poem! And so many of these experiences mirror my own, that I almost wanted to stop reading, since I know how painful they can be.

  3. Melissa says:

    Anna, this is a great work! I hope you do perform it one day. It’s very powerful!

  4. […] Exhibition by Annaham at ham blog. random stranger, friend of a friend, asshole on the street who tells me to smile because it can’t be that bad every word means less to me than I do to you Welcome to ZatB! My name is Chally. This blog is mostly about life and social justice. You can contact me at chally dot zeroatthebone at gmail dot com. I can also be found at Feministe, FWD/Forward and Radical Readers. […]

  5. Kris says:

    I like your poem – I actually sought out this site because of what you wrote about positive thinking on tumblr & I wanted to give you a link to another poem very relevant to that post:

    by Charles Bernstein

    Here are a few choice lines:

    Quadruple bypass.—Hold the bacon on that next cheeseburger. . .

    Poems tanking.—After stormiest days, sun comes out from behind clouds, or used to. . . .

    Election going the wrong direction.—Kick off slippers, take deep breathe, be here now. . . .

    War toll tops 100,000.—Get your mind off it, switch to reality TV.

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