“I am fated to journey hand in hand with my strange heroes and to survey the surging immensity of life, to survey it through the laughter that all can see and through the tears unseen and unknown by anyone.”  Nikolai Gogol

The heartening responses to the last Wednesday Writing Prompt, the hanged man, May 30, which asked what people – well-known or not – inspire us. Thanks to poets Lisa Ashley, Gary W. Bowers, Paul Brookes, Sheila Jacobs, Sonja Benskin Mesher and Marta Pombo Sallés responded with work that is both beautiful and heartfelt.  Thanks to Sonja and Marta for also sharing their illustrations.

Welcome to the multi-talented Clarissa Simmens, making her debut here with Austisophobia.

I must also draw your attention to John Anstie’s homage to his stepmom, One of a Kind.  Read it HERE.

Enjoy! … and don’t forget to visit these poets and get to know them and to join with us tomorrow for the next Wednesday Writing Prompt. All are encouraged to share their work on theme.


Most people fear me
Now that I’ve confessed
My autism
Despite the internet
And other fonts of info
They think we all melt down
And want to commit violence
On anyone blocking our path
Even if we only know them virtually
When the main thing
We on the spectrum share
Is our despair
That we are unlovable
To others
Merely because
We don’t know
The right words to say
Or the correct facial expression
When we are thinking of what was said
And what we’d like to convey
I dislike pity
So when things get sad
I go into Warrior Mode
A secret code
That bids me to lift my head
Love myself
And most days (and nights) I do
But there are times
When I watch as others
Shower kudos on their
Sisters and Brothers
The Neurotypical
Who fit in
While the Neurodiverse
Like me
Suffer the penalty
Of being different…

(c) 2018 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja) (Poeturja)

CLARISSA SIMMENS (Poeturja)  Clarissa Simmens is an Independent poet; Romani drabarni (herbalist/advisor); ukulele and guitar player; wannabe song writer; and music addict. Her poetry is written simply, striving to compose musically, including talking blues, folktales, and memoirs of life. Facebook and Amazon. (photo © Clarrissa Simmens)

I have health and body challenges. This simply written narrative “homage” is trying to capture how it might be for my “Swim Buddy” and the thoughts that cross my mind about him as I swim and work out in the water. I hold nothing but admiration for him.

Swim Buddy

One random day he fell off a ladder.
Paralyzed on impact
never to walk again, they said.

What year ago did he appear
young man in a wheelchair
rolling into the water?

How many hours has he fought
his struggles unknown
to the likes of you and me?

What year did he appear one day,
legs booted and braced,
swaying from side to side?

He swims laps beside me most days now,
offers to loan his special chair—
my surgery is coming soon.

Some months with walker & cane for me,
sticks & braces for him forever,
we park side by side in the disabled spots.

We cross paths in the grocery aisle
sneaking looks at what we’ve chosen,
both leaning on our carts, canes tucked in.

He is greeted by many, a strange notoriety,
his story known on the island.
How many times a day does he say, I’m okay?

We speak hello by the locker room
noting the weather, he’s finished early today.
I don’t ask. We go our separate ways,
he to his truck, me to the water.

© 2018, Lisa Ashley

vincent van gone

john wayne took
kirk douglas to task
for playing vincent van gogh
“play real men, not queers”
is only lightly edited for conciseness

but vincent was a real man
not a very pleasant man
but none can deny that fierce passion
that took him to the coal mines as a lay preacher
and gave him to live as the miners did
In the wretchedest of poverty
(he was soon fired, of course,
for misrepresentation of a proper preacher)

humiliation and scorn were his daily lot
the townsfolk called him “crazy red”
and he lived squalidly

but he was a dreamer alchemist
and he distilled an elixir
of hurtsoul and seethy seeing
from his churning core
and spread the elixir on canvases

he is gone but not
rectangles of his psyche remain

© 2018, Gary W. Bowers (One with Clay, Image and Text)


I see the unexpected generosity of so called “ordinary people” as remarkable:

Caravan (Please Take Change)

Three women in the queue
The first empties her packed trolley.

Do you need any carrier bags?
I ask.

Three to start with. I have to sort out
What we’re taking in the caravan.
Why did I buy so much?

Help packing?

Yes please while I empty this.

We’ll do it for you offers one of the other women.
We’d love a caravan holiday. Don’t take up much space.

Five carrier bags full later she says. I’ll have to fetch my car round. I’ll never carry all this.

We’ll carry it for you. We’ve only got these odd goods propose the other two women.

I can’t have you doing that.
Yes you can.

A caravan of women carry bags
out the door.

© 2018, Paul Brookes (The Wombwell Rainbow, Inspiration, History, Imagination)

“Don’t let it get away!”
my sister shouts as my Dad’s hot air
wrapped in rubber flaps up
over the ocean
in a cross gust.

We both climb in to steady it.
“We’re going out too far!
“I can’t see mum and dad.”
She shouts clambering back out.

She grasps the rope to pull
it forward but gust is too strong.
She lets rope go. “I’m going
back.” she shouts and swims away.

I try to paddle but gust is against me.
I get out, grab the rope, try to haul,
the current is against me. I climb
back in. Watch the beach, and mum
and dad disappear, till there is only
the gusted, grey green waves.

It is cold. In my trunks I curl
into a question mark
in the rubber dinghy.

Suddenly, a shout. A huge hand
gathers me and dinghy up.
I rise into air. Lifted
into a smelly fishing boat.

“Thought tha wa lost their lad.”
the sea god says.

© 2018, Paul Brookes (The Wombwell Rainbow, Inspiration, History, Imagination)

Pied Wagtail

As I pack another’s bag
He says ” I were a packer

down pit. Tha’d have made
a good packer.”

I set each odd shaped stone
in place to hold back debris
hold up the pit roof so others
may have space to work.

As I pack her bag
She says “Aren’t they beautiful.
The pied wagtails”

She watches their skitter
and bob outside the shop
window. “My dad was

a blacksmith in the pits.
Well, he was a farrier,

But when they got rid
of the ponies he became
a blacksmith. He allus

told me Pied Wagtails
nested in pit prop piles
stacked outside the pit.”

My pit prop holds up
the roof that others
may safely work.

The pits are all closed
their memories are all open,
a black and white skitter and bob.


Pack – Roof support made of stone. Large stones at the front, built up like a dry stone wall.
Packer (1) – One deployed to build the pack walls and fill behind with debris.
Packer (2) – A big piece of stone to use in the pack wall.
Packing – Act of building a pack wall and filling a void.
Packhole – Void at coal face to stow dirt either or both sides of the gate from the ripping lip.

© 2018, Paul Brookes (The Wombwell Rainbow, Inspiration, History, Imagination)

Showing them

i.m.Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis 1929-1993

They discussed her wardrobe for Texas.
Simple, elegant outfits, Jack suggested
especially on the Dallas trip – to show
those fur-hugging diamond -dripping
dowagers what good taste really was.

She showed them: chose a pink Chanel
suit, navy blouse and matching pill box
hat laid out the night before, accessories
hidden while she smiled to crowds along
Elm Street, waved a white-gloved hand.

When he frowned,suddenly,slumped
forward in the heat’s glare she hunkered
down, cradled his broken head in her lap,
scrambled across the limousine’s trunk
with white kid gloves polka-dotted red.

She lay on the back seat, her body draped
over his, wouldn’t let go until she reached
the Trauma Room of Parkland Hospital;
sat outside,refused to remove her gloves,
relinquish any more of him to strangers.

She showed them, showed the world as
L.B.J.swore the Oath of Allegiance on Air
Force One and she stood at his side, wore
blood-stained stockings and snags of dried
grey matter on her shocking-pink suit.

© 2018, Sheila Jacob

.the bull box.


i read Glyn Hughes, sometimes.

sometimes, i look at the photograph,

and wonder how it was that last year;

think of

how you wrote to me, sent

me your book

with a private inscription.

© 2018, poem and illustrations (below), Sonja Benskin Mesher



jon lord

the words came clearly, shining,

by the kettle early. knowing

i must write,.disappearance on

the stairs, may they drift in later

like a moth, soft and quietning.

now i write nothing, just

the shapes and patterns,

the notes on keys, tapping.

usually the same each morning,

until the differences,

show, and we are challenged.

john lord is gone, his words and sounds


© 2018, Sonja Benskin Mesher

I do not have any poem specially dedicated to a famous person for their courage, wisdom or whatever other qualities to admire, but I have a homage to some anonymous people that unfortunately are no longer among us:

Time and Human Cruelty

cannot be changed
or escaped.
Time is a thief,
a friend to no one
and every day is
a gift.

You cannot change time
or travel back
to reverse those things which
should never have taken place.
People killed for no reason
is there ever a reason
to kill other human beings?

Those people did not get lost.
When you’re lost you’ll sooner or later
find the way back.
Or perhaps not.
But you’re not erased from Earth.

Those people were killed,
just a few compared to other countries
in our world.
None of them will ever return
to the world as we know it.
They’ve just been removed too soon,
swept away by the cruelty of others:
white supremacists, Muslim terrorists …

But which governments are orchestrating
such massacres in our world?
Who’s feeding the monsters
is equally a monster.

Let’s tackle the root of the problem.
Only this way we’ll be able to say:
I am not afraid!

Time and human cruelty
are friends to no one:
Charlottesville, Barcelona, Cambrils
and many more.
The outcome is always the same.

© 2018, poem and illustration, Marta Pombo Sallés (Moments)

2nd poem: A tribute to a Catalan allegorical figure, the Pescallunes, a moon fisherboy, and to those anonymous people following his example:

Moon fisherboy

Someone unplugged and unscrewed
the moon and the stars.
They were stolen away from us
and we were left with a dark blanket,
covering the surface of the Earth,
under which we must live our lives.

Amid the darkness, in the sky
of a salted night, some of us
sit by the same old sea,
or mountain, or field, or by that river,
where once a sickle moon reflected itself.

Soft wind combs the lonely fields
of broken dreams.

Some of us search for the lost moon and stars,
electricians looking for some spare parts
to screw and plug in again in our hearts,
in the sky of illusions.

Some of us have brushes in our hands
starting the repair job,
painting a new landscape.

Someone plugs in the sun
and when the night comes again
stars and moon begin to shine anew.

The mirror of the sickle moon
reappears on the river waters.

As the ancient legend tells
a fisherboy wants to fish the moon
and put it in his bucket.

Someone laughs at him
and at the impossibility.
But deep inside the boy knows
he is a pescallunes,
a moon fisherboy,
like any other inhabitant
of that small Catalan village.

The fisherboy knows deep inside
our world needs more moon catchers
like you and me,
people with plenty of illusions,
dreams and projects.

© 2018, poem and illustration, Marta Pombo Sallés (Moments)

And the 3r poem is again an allegory or personification:


A long time ago
I got used to living with
My open wounds,
The last withered while
I was staring at the sunset
In the middle of the fog.

Yes, you told me so many times
About your suffering,
How your heart shrunk
Fisted in bleeding red
While your eyes tasted
The salt of the ocean waves
And cristal pearls were running
Down your cheeks.

On that plane you felt
The freezing coldness
Where just one thing
Would not freeze:
The fountain of your tears.

Yes, indeed I remember
All the pain on that plane.
You sent me back to the
Land of rejection.

Yet I am a resilient rock
With my withered wounds
That I carry since ancient times
On this eroded earth.

But to exist is to resist
And so I dwell in human hearts
Who care for each other.
And may I receive your boasting waves
Crashing on my shores
Those hearts will restore me again
For I am silent love and not vain.

© 2018, poem and illustration, Marta Pombo Sallés (Moments)


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