Jim Ferris


And I live in a place
where people live, I harken back
to that which surpasseth divine
or pagan text and government

and when I fall down
then Jesus falls down
the gods of old grow
old, the words thou shalt
not speak lie dead upon my hands

yet I sing most truly
when I chant the hymns
whose words I know not
my people do not claim me
daily we make our sacrifice

and what is this to those
who wear the cannulae
and what to those who wring
their hands, the numb
who love their numbness

tell them this: once there was
a difference between
us and them: the fear that shines
in my failing eyes
defined a line not divine

but comforting despite
(because) its aggravations -
I speak to ones who've mined
no voices: your lack of signs
is your sign - join the choir

and sing of promises
etched on scrim, engraved
in wire, lulled by rhyme
and feckless, futile, faded
still palpable desire

and the compromises we make
not to die alone

Jim Ferris is an award-winning poet and disability studies scholar. His poetry collections include Facts of Life and The Hospital Poems, winner of the Main Street Rag Book Award. His writing has appeared in dozens of publications, ranging from The Georgia Review to weekly newspapers. Past president of the Society for Disability Studies, Ferris holds the Ability Center Endowed Chair in Disability Studies and directs the Disability Studies Program at the University of Toledo.