The Kansas Partners in Policy Making Poetry Workshop

These poems are the product of an impromptu writing workshop done in November of 2005. They are beautiful, personal, pure and, most of all, powerful. They are powerful because they are raw, real and from the heart. We had been talking about the power of our stories in the context of advocating change. We spoke of the need for our stories to be, above all, transformative. The goal of story in advocacy is ultimately to change the world: to change the way others think, feel and act toward us and all who live differently, and, as well, to give us pause to consider and possibly change how we think and feel about ourselves, our family and/or friends living differently.

My only instruction was that it come from the heart, down the arm, through the hand, fingers and out of the pen onto the paper. It didn’t have to rhyme, didn’t have to have meter, didn’t need punctuation. It simply had to follow the heart path.

Immediate comments were expected: “I’m no writer.” "I’m not a poet.” Afterword, the most powerful comment came from a mom, tears streaming, who said, “I thought I was over this years ago.”

Enjoy and be moved by these words. If they inspire you to write, by all means, write. And if you feel like sharing,
email it to me with, if needed, a bit of explanatory text and I’ll add it below.

By Patricia Haas

I love to shop …
My clothes, your clothes, kids clothes,
Hardware, software, cookware.
I love to shop …

I love the glances …
She has class, she has style,
She is beautiful, that look is wild …
I love the glances …

I love babies …
They are tender, they are sweet, they are angels,
Little gifts of God.
Maybe I would like one …
After awhile.
I love babies …

She is here …
Baby Number 1.
She is mine, she is tender,
She is beautiful, she is an angel.
She is mine.
She is here …

She is here …
Baby Number 2.
She is mine? She is sweet?
She is beautiful? She is an angel?
A little gift of God? She is mine?
Maybe I should never had …
Another child.
She is here …

No time to shop.
Glances are gone.
Baby Number 1 is with grandma.
Surgeries will go on for a very long while …

She needs this. She needs that.
She needs sports …
Looks won’t matter.
She has a good heart.
At least you have one normal daughter.
She will look better …
After awhile.
She needs this …

We would love to shop …
But, man, the stares,
We hate the glances,
We hate the glares …
It doesn’t matter when, it doesn’t matter where.
We love to shop ...

We hate the glances … What is wrong?
Look at that face, please don’t stare.
I’m sure someone will make it better.
We hate the glances …

We won’t stop …
We don’t care. We love to shop
And we’ll do it anywhere.
Nothing is wrong. We love the face.
If it bothers you, go to another place.
No, you can’t ask, it’s none of your business.
We won’t stop …

We love to shop …
My clothes, your clothes, kids clothes,
Hardware, software, cookware.
We love to shop …


Send Me An Angel
By Jenny Rojas

Life seems dark today
Not sure where I’m going …
Think I’ll ask God to send me an angel
To show me the way.

Life seems different today
Got a fortune cookie
That said … you have a seed
Growing inside everyday
Think I’ll ask God to send an angel
My way.

Life was good today
Saw a picture of a baby
Growing inside
Think I’ll ask God to send an angel
To help me with the days.

Life was sad today
Our new baby arrived
Not perfect is what they said.
I asked God why and
By the way,
Please send an angel my way.

Life seems wonderful today
Because you see, I finally
Realized God did send an angel my way
And her name is….
Emma Mae


By Elizabeth Gednalske

Have you ever woke up mad
And the next thing you know
You are sad?

Have you ever felt so irritated
Because what is happening in
Your world has you agitated?

I some day hope to wake up
And the world is here to
Pick me up,

Make me happy
Wipe my tears
Forgive in your heart
And keep me near.


By Sheri Moore

All kinds of diets
All you can eat, fat-free,
Low cholesterol, low-sugar, what not …
And each bears its results,
That’s scientific enough.

I send my son & daughter with
Kettle corn, fruit, or corn chips-little baggies-
Taboo prepackaged cookies, pretzels,

Cheese, pizza, hamburger-
“That’s Daddy’s” chimes my factual abated tots.
Seeing improved speech, comprehension and
Sensory processing is why this
Mom presses on in this way.
So, please don’t be annoyed as snack time
Or as their leader, Help me plan and serve
And “glutenadcaseinfree” today.


By Larry Bender

You seem so real to me because
You are my best friend because
We have become very close.
We have been over many miles together
And have gone through many joys
And sorrows together;
Through thick and thin
We have been through deep valleys
These many years and, yes,
We will go miles further.
Thank you for staying with me.


By Jim Boyce

I am ready to write my story, as soon as …
As soon as I get my eye gaze mouse …
As soon as you can look me in the eye …
As soon as you can walk past me and
NOT Pretend I am invisible …

As soon as you can see I am a person, not a chair.
As soon as I get my PASS plan passed …
As soon as I can stop you with my wheelchair so you can’t move …
Then I will stand and look you in the eye.
Then my Dynavox will speak so quickly you have to listen.
As soon as … is all so stupid
I’ve already written my story
You just will not listen to my voice.


By Tina Griffin


Dustin, my second child
So beautiful, so innocent
Brought into this world to help me grow.
Receiving funny looks from those who don’t
Know how intelligent he is,
Victimized by teachers and students
For being himself.
Being categorized, labeled as
Disruptive and destructive.

Kids teasing, taunting him, his explosive anger,
Trying to convince him that he is OK.
Don’t they see the tears? Feel his pain?
Don’t they see he has feelings too?
He just wants to feel needed.
He just wants to make friends.
My son has a dream he is going to fulfill.
He is learning to cope.
Thank you God for giving me this beautiful child
That I can help fulfill his dream.


By Cindy Zimmerman

Our wish to be blessed with a child
Had come to pass,
But the cherished dream seemed
To become a nightmare.

How exciting to learn God had
Given us a son.
How devastating to hear
“Your son has Down Syndrome.”

Oh, the pain - the pity
Oh, the fear, the guilt,
The unknown.

As our vision cleared
The love and excitement returned.
The road, filled with unexpected turns,
Also revealed unknown beauty
And brought us face to face with
An angel more precious than words can express.
The journey continues with many rewards.


By Shelia Marque

Being blind since birth,
I never placed blame.
But, once in a while, I asked God

Friends tell me that God put me here to
Help others to adjust.
But I wondered sometimes, how to adjust myself.
With God’s help I have become strong and
So if I can help someone else like me,
I am happy.
I feel I have done God’s work.

My children seem to be not ashamed
Of their Mom
And my grandchildren love me
For who I am:
“Their Grandma”
If I can help others to be accepted
For who they are, then I have done
God’s will.

My friends see me as Shelia and Ginger,
Not the blind woman with the dog.
So, if I can help other see
People with Disabilities as people
Then I will be doing
God’s will.


By Askia Adams

Someday I will be free
FREE? Yeah,
You heard me.
I will be free some day.
You see I will be me.
You hear me?


By Kimberly Wells

July 3, 1994: Labor pain, hospital,
Baby boy.
Jason: 1 1/2 years today
Why did his voice stop?
No more: No, Yes, Dada, Mama ...
Just grunts and groans
Specialists; Doctors; “Poor Parents”
You will learn to adapt
He will never …
He will never …
Jason is eleven. I hear his voice
He loves math. He spells like a feign.
I’m glad we did not listen and
Reached for the stars
I’m glad we did not listen to
He will never …
He will never ...


By Stephanie Nipper

Today I called Josh
He turned 16
My heart broke as I sang Happy Birthday
He wanted to know if I was going to see him
Today and I had to tell him
“No, He chose to be in residential treatment
By his actions.”
However I feel I am the one paying the price.
He still won’t accept his disability, nor the
Help being offered to him.
The anger burning in him is tearing him apart.
He can’t see the destruction he leaves
Every time the war starts and the bombs
Start dropping
I have to pick up the pieces and glue
Everyone back together
No one understand unless they have
Been in the battle field, I call home.


By James Orman

More friendly, easy to talk to,
Eating lunch together every week,
An outlook of acceptance.

The homeless guys don’t see me
As a person with a disability.
The church sees me as one of
Their own. I’m a giver,
Not a taker. Please don’t’ make
Me feel different.
Keep the friendship circle going around.
It will come back to you.
Everybody needs a special friend.


By Mari White

The day scales were removed from my eyes-suddenly-light was able to seep in, my life began to slowly take on color-the day my son’s were born.

It’s a slow moving process. It is up and down, back and forth; clouds come and go, some days are more pristine than others. My understanding, ever changing, comfort and no comfort, past, present, and future blend and blur life’s hues. Experiences blur and blend. Often we don’t recognize it when it is in front of us. It can be disguised to us as the winged angel. Life is so vitally alive, if you only look.

Everyone is to be celebrated. God does not make mistakes. Things do not just happen. One must look outside the blinders, the box, take risks, and make mistakes. Once cannot avoid fear. One must celebrate fear because knowledge comes from fear.

I would never change my sons yet I have learned to change myself. Hopefully the sun will rise in them and they will celebrate their own uniqueness. Life is an open, infinite, ever-changing opportunity. One must remove their scales to see it, to feel it, to experience it. One must be willing to wear fluorescent pink in a dark world. One must shimmer and shine like dew drops first thing in the morning. It is the dew that washes away the darkness of night and awakens the soul. It is the willingness to laugh at, accept, and celebrate our own life and that of all other people everywhere.


by Sharon McCarter

A wonderful smile and how quickly
It changes if a stone is thrown
In your path or a detour is made.

The look you have when the
Wheels are turning and
The frustration that may
Follow when the words come.

Saying “I love you Mommy”
Even as an adolescent young
Man and crawling in bed
With Mom and Dad.

Seeing others as the same
Without differences. Except, of course
When you eat stinky chicken!!

The shifting of feet and the
The request “to squeeze me please”
Or when you say
“I want to go home when you are home”
And someone changed the routine.

The night you sobbed
Saying “I want to read like everyone else.”

Starting each day as if
The day before had never been bad.
Working thru the day to be
Comfortable in your own skin
And the world around you.

Saying you’d “pray for an animal” and
Sobbing for the one left behind
Not the one who had gone home to be with Jesus.

To think you’re the one they say that
Needs help with social skills.