BROWN DISABILITY or by Keith J. Castillo

here is
your body,

chronic pain dancing on joints,

an exercise in screaming
made physical

here is your soul,
a cardboard cutout
decorated with stars,
sliced through with matches
waiting to be set aflame

here is your crime,
being too brown,
too disabled
too autistic and
high risk
having meltdowns like solar flares
that refuse to die at night

nonverbal screaming,
a crime within itself,
words seem to
cloud your mind, your brain
suddenly a fogged-over forest
jumbling thoughts like balloons
you can never quite catch.

Your sentence
is this:
you will always look over your shoulder
waiting for the bullet in your back

you will wear your disability like a torn up shawl
shamed whenever someone mentions it

you will walk with a target on you your back,
afraid to be yourself, to use your hands like art
the act of expression decorating your every limb
you will be afraid to speak, of the lisp that dances on your tongue
of the way you stumble over words like ballerinas tripping over their feet
you will be afraid to speak

you will speak anyway

fear cannot conquer you
when you’ve lived your entire life with it

Keith J. Castillo is a nonbinary autistic poet currently living in Alberta, Canada. He prefers he/his pronouns and is never without a book. You can find him on twitter at @nonbinarybird or on tumblr at


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