This is based on a statistic I saw in a particularly foul British newspaper. I won’t link because articles like that and papers like that don’t deserve more circulation. I am 95% (you’ll get that joke when you’ve read the poem) sure that the statistic is bollocks but it still inspired this poem.
95% of people wouldn’t date someone disabled
the newspapers report.
But this isn’t a surprise to me
because you see, disabled people* aren’t sexy.
There’s nothing sexy about anxiety,
about limping or incontinence or depression,
about colostomy bags or wheelchairs or syringes.
In this zero sum game of love
you have it all
or you have nothing.
People search for the perfect mate,
swiping right indiscriminately but never talking,
putting ads in papers and going on TV
in the blind belief that out there somewhere
is someone who a computer made just for them.
Someone sexy and smart
and willing to put up with their myriad of shit.
Not someone who is a responsibility.
Caring for someone has no place in love.
The magazines flog us perfect bodies,
thin and tanned and able.
Disabled people only get a look in
when they are an inspiration.
When we talk about the sweat, blood and tears
taken to be a disabled athlete, popstar or author
then we can be seen.
Then we can be sexy.
A disabled person can be more
but never average.
We can’t make mistakes, be bitchy,
can’t be fat or ugly,
can’t be happy to just coast along at our shitty job
like every other fucker in the bastard place.
When we make a mistake it’s not
what did you do wrong?
It’s what’s wrong with you?
What’s wrong with you?
A disabled person makes an error at work
and it’s an excuse to suggest it’s time to leave,
time to go home put your feet up,
take care of yourself.
But if we don’t work then we must be busy,
must volunteer, care, create
to avoid becoming the worst of the worst;
Another statistic in the downfall of the country
on par with those job stealing
(yet somehow also benefit scrounging) immigrants,
a slogan for a hopeful politician
who wants to make our country great
by killing off the weaker of the pack.
If we dare to lose ourselves
we become worse than invisible,
uncared for, maybe, but not unseen.
See, disabled people aren’t sexy,
according to the 95%,
according to the papers who raise up our heroes
who have abilities
most able-bodied people would kill for
and on the next page
slam us down as skivers,
as hypochondriacs, drug addicts, liars,
and leave their readers to repeat
that 95% who have read that we are to be hated.
But, to be honest, with an attitude like that,
we probably don’t want to shag them either.
*Yes, I know, person centered language is grim etc etc. I normally would use ‘a person with disabilities’ but try reading the poem with it like that and you’ll know why I had to change it!