On a poet discovering he’s dyslexic just before his 47th birthday

So I always knew there was something amiss but in all honesty I just assumed I wasn’t very bright. Yet I have a Masters degree, and an Undergraduate degree, and several A Levels, so I knew what I was capable of.

In the latter part of 2020 I decided to have a look into this and take some tests, especially as I have always had short term memory problems and hey presto, along with one in five people, I was diagnosed as being dyslexic.

But then so are Whoopi Goldberg, Jim Carrey, so was John Lennon, Pablo Picasso, Leonardo da Vinci and even Albert Einstein.

So in other words, it’s no biggy. And if anything, it helps with problem solving. Dyslexic people have an amazing ability to see through the faff and get to the truth because that’s what they’ve been doing their whole lives.

Anyway, I thought I’d write a poem explaining how it feels.

On a poet discovering he’s dyslexic just before his 47th birthday

It’s not that the words danced around,
It’s just that there were too many of them,
Some sentences so convoluted
My head would shut down
Like a fizz of static on an old TV,
I’d overheat,
Sweat pouring from my brow.

I’m a poet, right?
Words are meant to be my playthings.
But it just felt more that they were
Playing with me,
Toying with me,
Hiding the truth behind the very words
Which the more competent people around me were using
To convey that very truth.
Doesn’t a bad worker
Always blame his tools?

In management meetings,
Words,
Too many of them,
Too many concepts,
Too much abstraction
Piled and peppered in paragraphs on the page,
They’d bland themselves into the blandground
And I’d try to pick them out,
Catch them, these
Multisyllabic monsters plucked
Between thumb and forefinger,
And I’d scream,
‘I know what you mean individually!
But together,
It’s all nonsense!
For goodness sake, just behave!’

And I’d leave the meeting,
The lesson, the symposium, the convention,
The workshop, the lecture, the presentation
Hot and sweaty and thinking
Everyone around me were superheroes
Because they understood everything at the very first attempt.
‘And now we come onto
‘Socio-economic considerations in means tested arts funding
Community-based stakeholder applications’.
And I’d
Have absolutely no idea,
And I’d ask someone
And they knew every nuance
So I’d pretend that I did too.

Perhaps I always knew something were amiss.
I could never take directions, or phone calls,
Or even simple instructions without
Writing it down and re-reading it five, six, seven times.
Now just slow down, slow down,
Let me write this, let me make some notes,
What do you mean you’re not going over it a second time?
Those bloody words again!
You’re meant to be my friends!

Sure, I can write like no-one’s business,
And tap dance on the precipice of literary expression.
But open my mouth
And I’m as erudite as a stunned slug.
You see that line that I just wrote, there?
I could never have uttered that in real life.
It takes me the best part of the morning
To come up with something so spontaneous.

This whole time,
I thought that words were my friends.
But close my eyes and they dance.
It turns out
They were always there.
They were only cheating on me.

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