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Friday, 19 October 2012

Autistic Boy

A purple hexa
gon has pride of place. Born
of a certain violence,
a rash of squares and 
triangles cascades towards
a yellow egg. On this
a skeleton is etched. But look 
again. The white bones 
form a face - and not
what we had thought. So quick
ly now, before his thick black zig-
zag - like chain saw's teeth -
obliterates 
the features scratched there
with such care.
Above the scene, a net. Below
a dense criss
cross of railway lines. All this:
the alpha
bet and syntax of
his lone attempt
to reach our minds with his.
Today
a cut and thrust of cut
and pasted cross
word bits filled in with
signs and symbols, al
ong with pictures from
his book of trains.
Prefix and suffix to his
private words, are
special clues he keeps
for those he trusts.

Another time 
he shows his jig
saw skills. Assembles
a large puzzle -
upside down he'll say,
but means inverted - picture
to the floor - then picks,
unerringly a piece which is
a further clue - an eye - could we
but understand. He studies us
to see if we can tell... gives up
and shows instead
a photograph. Himself in
football gear. He holds
a cup - and from each face,
that rarest of all things:
a smile.
..................................
Written in response to Victoria Slotto's rich selection of prompts, Steampunk and Enjambment - but there's more than this on offer - at dVerse Poets Pub. Go see, why don't you?

I chose to work with enjambment and to write again about a boy who was the subject of a post almost exactly four years ago. You can read it here.

24 comments:

Mary said...

Love the way you used emjambment in this poem. I really found myself compelled to keep reading. I enjoyed the symbolism of the puzzle he was putting together. Almost as complex as the human mind.

Daydreamertoo said...

I think there is so much about Autism that we don't understand. Some of these kids are genius. You've made this boy sound fascinating.
Great response to the prompt Dave.

Brian Miller said...

dude you work some absolutely fabulous enjambment in this....ha...wicked good...and so fun....some fav lines...

Today
a cut and thrust of cut
and pasted cross
word bits filled in with
signs and symbols, al
ong with pictures from
his book of trains.

you get a lot of meaning in how you break this down...great title...i have several autistic kids that i work with and have.

Heaven said...

Very good examples of enjambment..I like the cutting of the words even ~

This is a health condition that is still puzzling these days...we don't have a clue really but its lovely when we can coax a smile ~

kaykuala said...

They are in a world of their own. Some hide talents to be discovered. You have a classic enjambment in play. Great take Dave!

Hank

Laurie Kolp said...

We have a friend with an austic boy and he loves to play with Legos...

I especially like the same section Brian commented about.

Manicddaily said...

Very cool--at first I didn't get the lack of hyphens but of course makes perfect sense with your subject. The cadence here is jet terrific, and a feeling of quiet absorption fills the poem, threaded with sadness in the wonderfully clear disconnect. K.

Claudia said...

special clues he keeps for those he trusts..not easy to win the trust of an authistic kid..love how you describe him and the smile in the end just made me smile as well

The Weaver of Grass said...

I too like the enjambment Dave - I think it is what makes this poem so powerful. Obviously written by someone who has had experience with autism. (I worked in such a school too).

Kim Nelson said...

The veracity of this piece makes clear both your understanding of autism and your ability use enjambment to add both context and emotion. SO well done, David. In fact, perhaps the best response to the dVerse prompt I've yet read. Skilled, this.

Rachna Chhabria said...

A poem so powerful, it made me sit up and think.

Anonymous said...

The zig zag and jig saw both stopped my run of assumption. Funny how our minds try to see and read chunks. Emjambment really makes us stop and think.
-DA

Anonymous said...

I like this and thanks for writing about someone and something not always understood. But smiles and pictures we can see. Gardenlilie.com.

Anna Montgomery said...

I loved this poem for your artistry, enjambment, and compassion but most of all because my father was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder, a few years ago so some of this hit very close to home.

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

A very unusual, unexpected and great work. A dear friend of mine spends a lot of her time with an autistic boy enhancing his particular sensibility. As for myself I enjoyed a novel about an autistic boy, by Mark Haddon "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time"

Victoria said...

Wow, Dave. Your use of enjambment worked so well in ensconcing me right in the head of an autistic child. In a way it created a bit of anxiety for me. Perhaps we all have a touch of Autism in us, or, at least, the ability to enter into that world.

Victoria said...

Just saw Tommaso's comment and I had thought about mentioning Haddon's book, too. It's brilliant, if you haven't read it.

Cloudia said...

Hexa gone, man, gone!


Weekend Aloha from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral

> < } } ( ° >

The Elephant's Child said...

A third recommendation for Mark Haddon's book about a boy with autism. I think he would have loved this poem as I do. Thank you.

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Terrific stuff Dave - wonderful vision into the mind of an autistic child.

Anna :o]

Dave King said...

Mary
Thanks. I found it quite exciting to write. Just 'clicked' somehow.

Daydreamertoo
Yes, you are right. When I first went into Special Education it was difficult to find a class teacher who had or had had an autistic child in his or her class. Ten years later it was difficult to fid one who hadn't had several - that was because of the way in which the category had expanded from a very narrow definition to almost an umbrella term.

Brian
Thanks Brian. They're hard work, aren't they, but very varied and rewarding - like all kids - at times!

Heaven
No, you're right. We're still feeling our way in the dark.

Hank
In a world of their own... in more senses than one! Thanks for.

Laurie
Thanks. Lego does seem to be a general favourite with autistic lads. A rather strange and very unsettling condition at times.

Manicddaily
Thanks for bringing up the lack of hyphens. I put them in. Then I took them out. In. Out. I was still unsure when I posted. Probably got too obsessed with them.
Really pleasing to be told the cadence was ok, though. Thanks for that also.

Claudia
Thanks. They don't usually smaile a lot. It can be very special when they do.

The Weaver of Grass
I agree about the enjambment adding power. I chose the subject because I thought it would be greatly suited to the use of enjambment. I think I was right.

Kim
Wow, I wasn't expecting anything like this. What can I say, but many thanks?

Rachna
Thank you so much for saying so. Much appreciated.

Anonymous
Interesting: the two stanzas were an attenpt at the dead man poetry which was part of the prompt. The first stanza tells you something about the dead man; the second stanza tells you something more -I assumed slightly different.

Anonymous
Thank you for this. Yes, it is a bit like that, trying to 'find' an autistic child.

Anna
As far as I know I have never had a child with Asperger's Syndrome in my class, but know a little about them. Those that I have known have been extremely likeable. Thanks for your comment.

Tommaso
Mark Haddon's book has been on my 'must read' list for a very long time. I really MUST read it! Sincere thanks for your most generous comments. It was really good to have them.

Victoria
Yes, I do believe we do have a bit. Childhood autism is a natural phase that we go through. A certain spectrum maybe part of that childishness some of us so like to preserve into adulthood - or otherwise wish we could. Thanks for such a helpful comment.

Cloudia
Love it. Ta!

The Elephant's Child
Thank you so much - both for the comment and the recommendation.

hyperCRYPTICal
Very kind words. Thank you so much.

Ygraine said...

Fabulous write Dave.
Incredibly moving insight into the mind of an autistic child.
I truly enjoyed reading this :)

Dave King said...

Ygraine
Thanks for this. Your comments are always so rewarding.

Linda said...

In my view, I think too many people underestimate the capacity of people with autism, retardation or any other form of mental abilities. I can speak for myself in saying that I do my best not to judge a person based on how they look or what their intellectual or physical disabilities are, because I think that if we try to look for the good in people and relate to them with the same consideration and respect as we do anyone else, we will end up being pleasantly surprised at what they are capable of. Thank you so much for sharing, this post in particular has deeply touched me, Dave.