blackmail press 31  Marginalization
Melinda Smith

Marginalization - Pauline Canlas Wu
Melinda Smith is an Australian poet based in Canberra. Her eldest son has autism, and she has a book of autism poems coming out in 2012 (the work in progress is at Her poem in this issue was produced with the financial support of ArtsACT.

autistic child with acute auditory processing disorder

in the foetal position in the museum toilets, hands clamped over my ears, shrieking
trying to say there’s a dryer, there’s a dryer, any second now someone will set it off
the sound will be a faceful of boiling water

I’m sorry, your patient explanations are not getting through. It’s a very bad line.

at the indoor swimming pool, crouched behind the waterslide, poo-ing into my damp trunks
trying to say I have to get out, the echoes are attacking me in four dimensions, I’m on a bad trip and I
can’t come down

at the backyard washing line, moaning and trying to burrow under the grass
trying to say there’s a bird, there’s a bird, it’s going to swoop down and screech in my ear
the sound will feel like an ice pick in my skull

Your cognitive behaviour therapy is not getting through at all. It is a very bad line.

at a birthday party, buried under cushions and wailing like a siren
trying to say I can’t stand it, the music and the voices are tearing at me, pecking me apart

in my bedroom after school, kicking my three-year-old sister in the face
trying to say go away, go away, you’re noisy, you’re unpredictable
I’ve been clinging to a cliff face for six hours and you’re dangling yourself from my ankles

running across a six-lane road, terrified of a toy poodle on the footpath
trying to say there’s a dog, there’s a dog, it’s going to bark
the sound will slug me like a sandpaper boxing glove

Your elaborate reward and punishment system, your guilt trips, your lectures, your bellowing and
                       tears aren’t getting through either. This is a very bad line.