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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, March 9, 2018.
About this Poem 

"This poem comes from real advice and performance art. Someone told me I had to come out and state my disability in every poem I write. This made me wonder: Who does poetry serve? What is poetry’s idea of itself? To dodge those questions, I began performing as Tipsy Tullivan across social media. She is a nondisabled writer from Asswallascallacauga, Alabama. She doesn’t write poetry, but she’s likely in the collective 'we' of this poem."

—Jillian Weise

Nondisabled Demands

It’s not fair. You owe it to the reader. 
We’re trying to help. We have an uncle 
with a disability and he always says 

exactly what it is. Take it from him. 
Take it from us. Take it from them.
You can’t expect people to read you 

if you don’t come out and say it.
Everyone knows the default mode 
of a poem is ten fingers, ten toes

with sight and hearing and balance. 
When this is not true, it is incumbent 
on you to come out and say it.

Here’s what. We’ll rope you
to the podium and ask
What do you have? What is it? 

Copyright © 2018 by Jillian Weise. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 9, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by Jillian Weise. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 9, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Jillian Weise

Jillian Weise

Jillian Weise is the author of The Book of Goodbyes, which received the 2013 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets.

by this poet

poem
I want to be disability for you.
Make new signs for you.
They are saying things about us

online in their underwear.
The listserv is blowing up.
Ableist verse, ableist verse

and I’m talking to you.
I’m a green circle for you
and there you go again

into my cover letters.
Pinned your last dispatch
to my Outlook
poem

We were stepping out of a reading
in October, the first cold night,
and we were following this couple,
were they at the reading? and because
we were lost, I called out to them,
“Are you going to the after party?”
The woman laughed and said no
and the man kept walking, and she

poem
I want to be disability for you.
Make new signs for you.
They are saying things about us
online in their underwear.
The listserv is blowing up.
Ableist verse, ableist verse
and I’m talking to you.
I’m a green circle for you
and there you go again
into my cover letters.
Pinned your last dispatch
to my Outlook so