17 January, 2020
Our son twists his face into the panicked look
you might get right before a car crash as he
stomps his foot and says Your mom’s
gonna get raped and you’re gonna cry
and we wonder where he heard that.
His behaviorist told us to whisk him off to his room
to mellow his meltdowns, so I say
Let’s go upstairs, Buddy,
but he screams No, I don’t have to
deal with this crap and we wish he didn’t.
He calls himself a jerk, slaps himself
hard and my cheek stings red
because my son’s autism is mine.
When my wife says Calm down, he curses us
until we both feel goddamned.
His words rappel from my ears into my throat
and I can feel that, for him, trying to keep silent
right now is like trying not to cough when the need
rises from your chest and tickles your throat.
He curses the whirling chaos of his world, slaps
his own face and his mom and I worry
about what happens next year
when he gets his driver’s license
if his tail-light goes out and the blue coplight
swirls in his eyes and the siren rings
in his ears and the officer says put your hands up
and our son reaches for his ID in his Batman wallet,
swaying, cursing at the officer who doesn’t know
that this boy has bought fifteen extension cords
of all colors and sizes that Youtube taught him
to tie into daisy chains, that he knows he owns
ninety-three shirts and can tell you
there are ninety-nine days until his birthday,
that he’s memorized the height and weight
of every president, watches Elf once a week,
and just needs to calm down in his room
with Johnny Thunders or Joey Ramone
soothing him through his phone
and what if the cop, hand on holster,
says Calm down, control yourself,
show me your hands, now, show me your hands?