Haylee Bissett has written 2 poems for our 'Disability Pride Starts Here' project. They are called 'Yell' and 'Life Is A Library'. She also generously shared a 3rd poem that she wrote previously called 'My Beautiful Mind'.
When you yell,
My ears ring.
My heart yelps.
My blood boils.
I fold to keep the peace,
as I tear myself to pieces.
Place the mask upon my face.
send haste resentment that lays dormant.
Why do I stay silent?
Why do I run from the ghost of fire and pitchforks,
of straitjackets and narcotics.
Of your voice that haunts every inch of my being.
I do not want to run from your deafening voice,
I do not want to worry for my life,
I do not want to be controlled by you or the mask I place upon myself,
No more, no more, no more…
Is my existence that much of a concern to you?
Am I the monster under your bed?
Am I the blaze that turns your forest to ash?
Am I the puzzle you can't put together?
Trust me when I say we are on the same team,
but why do you intend to exterminate me?
I am not an infestation.
I am not a disease.
I'm not yours to fix,
I'm no blessing,
I'm no cure.
I am human…
So please just let me be,
to see and breathe,
The life that we all deserve,
to see and breathe in.
Take me to France: 1789.
Where they put the heads of their bullies on bayonets.
Radicalised their survival.
Took charge of adversity and turned it into history.
Back to modern-day examples,
So, when you yell,
Remember these words,
Your voice can't hurt me, no more,
Because I want more than your intolerance…
I want dignity.
I want life.
I want survival.
I want pride.
Description of the piece: This piece I made specifically for YDAS Disability Pride Project, and the group challenged to me to reflect on what disability pride is to me and what is the source behind this pride. I believe a part of my disability pride comes from bottled-up anger about a world that continuously discriminates against disabled people, both passively and actively. As an autistic woman, society taught me from a very young age that anger and frustration are emotions not accepted in girls and I would mask feelings of anger growing up often. As I'm getting older, I'm still learning how to healthy have these feelings and allowing myself to express these emotions. I hope in this piece, I can use my anger positively. "
Life Is A Library
Life is a library.
One million books,
one billion words,
one trillion mind's eyes.
I try and find the book,
not too long,
not too hard,
just right for me.
But I never seem to find the one.
The one that helps heal your soul.
The one that comes with great epiphany.
The one that allows you to breath in peace…
Is it me that doesn’t allow the books to call to me.
Are they just too high for me to reach,
just not the right themes,
not written for me.
I had enough of looking for eternity.
Looking for a place to be me,
to be free,
to belong indeed.
Description of the piece: this piece is about the desire to be understood and to have a place to belong. I think for many autistic people including by myself, we don't always feel like we belong even if we are content about the situation that we are in. As an autistic young women who is about to finish high school going into a world that I know that I’m already not fully accepted in, I feel this sense of not being understood and not belonging even more than ever and quite frankly I'm tired of it. This relates to disability pride because I know so many people who go through this same feeling all alone. Let this poem be a reminder that you are not alone.
My Beautiful Mind
The mind is complex like the Cheshire’s trickery and deep dark rabbit holes,
From one to another,
They are all different,
Morphing and ever-changing like the butterfly with its wondrous wings;
But once was the humble caterpillar walking its way.
My mind as full and equal to the person next to me,
My mind as vast as a library,
Full of thoughts, dreams, and knowledge as the person next to me.
But why did someone have to put clouds in front of my mind?
Since when did someone say -
My mind was inferior…?
Well sir, you’ve had me underrated,
Walk a mile in my shoes,
I dare you,
It will be an experience you’ll never forget.
Let’s see if you like the thick fog they place over people like me,
Let’s see if you can handle my beautiful mind,
Get lost in the wooden and clay bookshelves,
Get lost in the stories I tell,
Don’t just scratch the surface,
Why can’t you read in between these lines?
See that thunder clouds are less scary as they seem,
See that I’m less scary as they believe me to be,
Let the unknown rain down on you,
And immerse yourself in the pitch-black waters.
Let the unknown be answered,
As I heal from your ignorant words.
Don’t you get that your words -
Drip, drip, drip
Into my soul like rain from these thunder clouds.
But these words have eventually made me,
Grow, grow, grow.
From the seedling I once was to the graceful willow tree I’m becoming.
I stand rooted against this stormy weather.
I stand tall and in pride as I walk in this crossfire.
Look up to the sky as I try to understand this different world.
Fall in love with another world
As I try to clear my mind.
I write this to attempt to unwind from the cruel world
And heal from your cruel words.
Your words may have broken my branches, but you will never break my soul.
Meet the writer
Hi there, My name is Haylee Bissett and I’m an Autistic poet, editor for The Bold Source magazine and Young Citizen of the Year for Brimbank in 2022. With my three poetry pieces, My Beautiful Mind, Yell and Life is a library I hope to connect to my own sense of disabled pride and share it with you.