The Poetry Center is proud to present the below poem by Khadijah Queen as part of our annual programming with the Poetry Coalition. The theme for 2022 is “The future lives in our bodies: Poetry & Disability Justice." The line “The future lives in our bodies” is from the poem “Femme Futures” by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha. In addition to presenting this poem's text, we launched a series of accessible formats, beginning with an ASL interpretation and narrated video, large print broadsides and braille versions free to the public at the Center, and the captioned animation all listed below. At the bottom of the page, you can also download an audio description of the animation and the broadside file.
Late Diagnosis Starting with a Tweet
Château Cadet-Bon, France 2021
Trauma & astrology don’t explain everything but I’ve got PTSD
& ADHD & on a thirteenth Friday in June halfway through
the seventies, third planet in retrograde, I guess I was born
to learn in reverse. A calendared planetary curse to pay
the wrong kind of attention—a genius of distraction. Or,
a poet, extrasensory, human. My chaos is more glitter than concrete,
more confetti than anything solid or obedient to shape.
Where do thoughts fly? Associative leaps, when I knew
what to call them, felt like home, like wings. It makes sense
to live in the air, to refuse to live a life of almosts
but keep satisfaction impossible, my brightest failures the slow
sips of wine not yet aged to peak. Open another, try again.
The bells in Bordeaux ring at 19h04 a full minute the Wednesday after
I’ve learned appellations, classifications, varietals, to smell & check
color & swirl before I sip through my teeth. I dive into limestone
& clay in Saint Émilion, facts of corporate takeovers of designations
in ancient once-familied hills, December vines bare against late morning
fog that burns away to slate blue by noon. I know the difference between
ease & complexity means knowing their concomitance. Rejection
sensitivity & hyperfocus could blend into the wine
kind of difficult magic—I savor a 2015 Grand Cru Classé & later,
try the year’s second as unfortunate detour. The word disorder draws
negative attention but deficit means less lack than letting life hollow you
out because someone else or a whole culture said to—Said try
harder. Said not enough or too much.
I could die too early, statistics say, from the wreckage
lack of care could make of any mind. I climb cobblestone
street heights where our guide tells us shit first rolled downhill.
Now it’s on my winter boots, an ancient limning I’ll bring home
as if I need more. He says Girondins & I think of Girona—
another avenue I’ll familiar-web myself into. Certain brains wander
limbic, led by feeling, flight, light, surrender to love, curiosity
or nothing but speed, pleasure—Formula 1 & richer, bolder, older reds
I adore for a reason. I can’t always follow instructions but know to rectify
mistakes. I believe it’s less forgiveness than allowance. Less madness
& more the damage of false assumptions, less quirk & more dopaminic
need & neurological pattern in infinite exploding pieces
& I’m explaining again. I might or might not learn when to quit
& how, according to taste & circumstance, holding close what took
time & art & an earth of chance to make.
ASL Interpretation by Aja Haymore
Narration by Julie Swarstad Johnson
Narrated by Julie Swarstad Johnson
Animation by Nettie Gastelum / ocrioncomics.com