Poetry for Cripples

Poet of Cripples

Let me be a poet of cripples,
of hollow men and boys groping
to be whole, of girls limping toward
womanhood and women reaching back,
all slipping and falling toward the cavern
we carry within, our hidden void,
a place for each to become full, whole,
room of our own, space to grow in ways
unimaginable to the straight
and the narrow, the small and similar,
the poor, normal ones who do not know
their poverty. Look with care, look deep.
Know that you are a cripple too.
I sing for cripples; I sing for you.

We talked a little about this poem by Jim Ferris in class but I wanted to bring it up because it has a power and presence that I find fascinating. This sonnet creates a unified identity for the disabled. Ferris is not attempting to recognize individuals, but create a community for which this poem is the spokesperson. However, Ferris does not stop with including the disabled, he also wants “the normal ones who do not know their poverty.” to “look with care” and “know that you are a cripple too.” The speaker sings for every person. The narration in Poetry for Cripples almost alludes to Langston Hughes’ famous I, too, Sing America and so brings our minds to a noble cause for justice and civil rights. The allusion allows the reader to compare the disability and civil rights movements and relate them within their own minds. I believe this allusion is powerful and may be why this sonnet resonates so strongly with me. It almost presents the need for equality and recognition as a matter of fact almost duh moment where the reader is forced to recognize the similarity between the two movements and realize disabled Americans deserve the same rights Black Americans were denied for so long.

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