Story Up at Spoonie Magazine!

Matthew, age 10, at the gymnastics 2009 Oregon state championship competition. Still wearing his high-bar grips after completing his first-place routine, he smiles for a photo.

I’m more grateful than I can express to editor Sara Watkins of Spoonie Press (home to the annual online and print publication, Spoonie Journal, and the weekly online Spoonie Magazine) for helping me share my story about raising my gorgeous, extraordinary son, Matthew: To Be the One to Say, “Yes!”

If you’ve followed my work even for a short while, you’ll be acquainted with my poetic accounts of Matthew’s autism. I had to dig deep for this longer-form prose piece. Let me know your impressions and feel free to share a link to this story with anyone out there who you believe could benefit from our experience — your engagement means the world to me!

Matthew, age 21, sits on the curb of a hotel parking lot in Indianapolis. He is cross-legged with his camera strap slung over his left shoulder, as he peers intently into a gray sky, ready for an approaching thunderstorm..

Unbecoming – by Cate Terwilliger

I’m too stunned to say anything intelligible about this earth-shattering poem. Just. Read. It.

Suddenly I find it odd that my arms terminate in hands — these firm and meaty pads, the bony fingers extruded in opposition to the outliers, these peculiar thumbs. Who designed these naked anomalies, wrinkling and weathering with the years? Where are my clever paws, their dexterous beauty, their soft and ageless fur? A […]

Unbecoming

Cento Published in The Night Heron Barks

I’m pleased to share that my poem, “(Cento) Because the world is,” is now live in the magnificent collection of visual and literary art that is the Spring 2022 issue of The Night Heron Barks. I’m grateful to editor Rogan Kelly for including my cento (a poem cobbled together from the words of other poets) among such a lineup of literary stars (please do check them out!). What an honor! 

Two Poems up at Spoonie Journal!

I unfortunately never got my hands on Matthew’s soup photos in infrared…

I’m honored and proud that my poems “Infrared” and “Terminal”* are represented among the pages of the fantastic inaugural edition of Spoonie Press Literary Journal! Please take some time to peruse the user-friendly website, and consider purchasing a copy of the gorgeous print edition.

I’m grateful to editor Sara Watkins for including my work in the scope of her visionary, inspiring, gorgeous project. Congratulations to all the contributors whose combined efforts have resulted in this truly special collection of literature and art.

Read about SPOON THEORY

*Links to accessible, text-only versions of the poems + audio recordings. 

What Autistic Advocacy Really Means

I’m veering from the beaten path of poetry today to share Ira’s phenomenally informative and vital post about autism advocacy.

Autistic Science Person

TW – ableism, eugenics, “treatments”, torture, Judge Rotenberg Center, Spectrum 10K

You may have recently heard about the Spectrum 10K study and have seen autistic people’s, and non-autistic people’s, concerns about the study.Though I have plenty to say regarding this study, that’s not what I want to talk about right now.

What I want to talk about is the lasting effects that occur when autistic people are used as a commodity, a political football, a theoretical argument, as exploitation, when autistic people have to witness the dehumanization and legal torture of autistic people.

A study like Spectrum 10K brings out non-autistic people – parents of autistic people, teachers of autistic students, and many disability-adjacent “professionals” – who genuinely think it would be better if they aborted autistic fetuses in the future so that they didn’t “suffer.”

Although these interactions are upsetting, the worst part is when being autistic is used…

View original post 1,624 more words

3 Poems Up at Literati Magazine!

Many thanks to editor Renée Sigel of Literati Magazine for featuring my poems, “Rewording,” “Titanoboa cerrejonensis,” and “Ghazal of the Lost,” in the publication’s Portfolio Series of previously rejected poems. Yes, a majority of my poems that make it out into the world tend to experience a healthy dose of rejection before seeing the light of day, and I greatly appreciate that Renée saw fit to bring these three stragglers in out of the cold.

While “Ghazal of the Lost” was a cooperative child, Literati Magazine found the formatting of “Rewording” and “Titanoboa cerrejonensis” to be somewhat combative, so I’ll provide the texts as they should appear below:

Crocus in snow, purple spring flower.

Rewording

_____Your laugh is the child I never knew,
a promise kept nascent like a crocus
__________beneath a winter of detritus—

_____I never knew a crocus
could reword the daylight
__________with spring’s first mist.

_____How I’d wished the earth’s iron bellows
would recast the sky’s crimson artefacts
__________my lost will had smelted into slag,

_____until living through my bitterest nights
of seismic heartbeats weathered into stalagmites
__________finally tempered my breaths alive!

_____Now, their embers light my way
to the tenderness you well in your eyes:

_____Amassed like snowdrifts
the rising moon velvets in her white hush,
__________it is the naked quiet of us

rewording the daylight

_____into ash branches
__________lustered with dusk’s winter cloak;

_____a crocus sheltered in warm mulch
__________beneath the moonlit ice;

_____your laugh,
__________the child I never knew;

_____a promise kept
__________nascent in winter’s womb.

***

Titanoboa

Titanoboa cerrejonensis

_____When this restrictive skin
of self-pity refuses to slough off
_____& relinquish its groaning contents      my pain

sends me to my prehistoric depths—
_____sliding through my black     encapsulated veins
with questions of utility & necessity forking my tongue

_____into a device primed for maximal receptivity
scouring the fossil record
_____for evidence of fortitude       where I find you

fifty-eight million years ago
_____at the height of your dominion
in the Cerrejón Rain Forest     in what is now

an arid sweep of Northern Colombia

_____There     your legacy swims its secrets
into my stagnant heart     transforms my
_____mudstone back into supple blood

& re-designs me in your magnificent image
_____that I may waggle my muscled girth
_into a forty-eight-foot-long series of esses

_____effortlessly conveyed upon the swamp’s
vast network of currents     slip out
_____of my twisted     anthropic pelvis

& encumbering limbs     & vanquish
_____gravity’s inflammatory breath
_in the clutches of my cold     unshakable coils

STEPHANIE L. HARPER

 

 

How to Be a Malacologist

Snail Buddy

How to Be a Malacologist

Remember when
your child’s heart led your head
like a garden snail’s head leads its footed belly.

Think back to when you were seven
& your adopted pet/school project, Kiddo,
gnawed away at a slice of banana on a glass slide
as you watched, thunderstruck, from beneath him
(find out on Wikipedia that he was using his radula
a structure akin to a tongue used by mollusks to feed).

Recall how proud you were of Kiddo when he not only lost
the school snail race, but redefined it, by turning around
at the half-way point, staying in his own lane, & crossing
the start-line before any of the other snails reached the finish.

Wonder why your teacher didn’t mention anything about Kiddo
& his compatriots being hermaphrodites, or how (if they chose)
they could all be both father & mother to their tiny-shelled progeny,
& realize how simple it would have been for her to call a snail’s powerful,
innate mechanism of retracting its tentacles into its head for protection
by its technical name: invagination.

Then, understand, finally, that if you’d been born with the ability
to operate yourself like a puppet, & pull yourself outside-in
by drawing your head down into your belly & out
through your foot, to invert your once-vibrant
body into an empty sock, how many times
you would have done exactly that.

STEPHANIE L. HARPER

“How to Be a Malacologist” first appeared in Panoply in January 2018—thank you to editors Jeff, Andrea, and Ryn for selecting this piece!—and is the opening poem of my first chapbook, This Being Done.