March 2017 Featured Writer: Hilary Krzywkowski

hilarys-bio-picSwimming with Elephants Publications would like to introduce our March 2017 Featured Writer: Hilary Krzywkowski.

My name is Hilary Krzywkowski. I’m a native Clevelander, and I’ve been writing for virtually my whole life, with poems published occasionally by small presses. I’d like to have the opportunity to showcase my work to promote my graphic novel Afterbirth: A Journey Through The Death Of My Self  and spread awareness of those of us in the IDD community who write an incredible amount of material over a spectrum of interests and experiences but aren’t presented with enough (or equal) opportunities to circulate our work because it’s either difficult for us to accept the mic or our voices are prevented from merging with our non-disabled contemporaries. With exposure, I’d like to open the platform for other IDD and physically disabled writers and artists. We have so much to offer the literary and art world that I think our work could shift the paradigm for what is meaningful and relevant by exploring our own imaginations and sharing that experience publicly. I’d like to be more supported in my creative endeavors on account of the exposure.

I’m an autistic writer, philosopher, artist, spouse, and parent who home-educates my three neurodiverse children. I’ve taken up blogging and begun to express my thoughts and feelings about autism, mental health, gender, chronic pain, chronic illness, disability, and civil rights in visuals and writing. My calling is to not only give my children the best of myself so they can grow up to be confident, caring, and empowered adults but to be an artist advocate and story teller flowering forth work that represents and/or supports the diversity of life experiences of those of us in the IDD community. Along my journey, I hope to reach other Autistic parents with my blog, Healing Hilary’s Heart: A Facebook Parent With Autism.

Currently, I’m undertaking to create a body of iPad art and writing that expresses the daily realities, sensations, prejudices, traumas, and joys of being an autistic person and parent of autistic children. At the moment, I’m exploring sex, pregnancy, and childbirth. In the long term for this year, I hope to begin a graphic novel titled “Harry,” which is based on my experiences living as an undiagnosed gender-queer minor on the Autism Spectrum in inner city Cleveland, Ohio. It’s meant to have humor running through it, some of it rather dark, and express not only memories of myself but those of my friends who were also disabled. It’s a bit coming of age tale, a bit commentary on disability in the poverty and minority class in Cleveland, a bit of meanderings through the underground art and literary scene, and a bit commentary on general assumptions about gender and sexuality, neurodiversity, disability, and mental illness. I realize, depending on my mood and level of enlightenment through composing this graphic novel, the overarching theme may change slightly, with appearances by Pokemon, Robert Crumb, Jim Henson, Beck, Metallica, David Bowie, Elton John, and other obscure characters.

Three Poems

A Lady Yells Through The Open Side Door Into An Autistic Woman’s House

Don’t shout for me
I can’t answer you
meltdownWith what little words I have lodged in my throat
Jagged, rough stones painted with child’s words of endearment and scary,
With what little words I have lodged in my throat
Tufts of string tangled, matted into balls with lint and dust fluff that choke,
With what little words I have lodged in my throat
Long-lost pieces of jewelry, inherited but forgotten, dreams for heirs,
With what little words I have lodged in my throat
Frogs jumping, some without legs, others with poisonous purple and yellow skin,
With what little words I have lodged in my throat
Stickles of doubt, a twitchy snout, prodding the soil for grubs, friendship,
With what little words I have lodged in my throat
Wind and water, hail and lightning, electric trembling crashes, orgasmic catastrophe,
With what little words I have lodged in my throat
Swallow down, broken glass, internal bleeding, quiet feeling, not today.
not today.
My door is open
But that doesn’t mean I’m home.



stimming-and-dancingMy tribe is gone.
I have to take off my clothes.
I dance and my sister crashes down from the sky
and the blisters heal.
My tribe is gone.
Trees swear around me.
Standing on the shore we watch the ships,
and you say
“there are things you should learn, like driving”
I yell, the car spins out,
spinning circles too close to fences and houses
knocks down a mailbox, grazes a tree.
My tribe is gone.
I saw and I heard all the white folks
make the best cowboys and
Indian wisdom, though it has to camp out all night,
it wins the war against four hundred thousand guns.
And my tribe is gone.
I take one lock of hair, cut it like a promise
and all 400,000 promises come true.
The drug wears off while I dance,

I know my tribe is gone.
They always knew what time it is
and I can’t really understand memories and dreams and voices.
Its inside me, the dance shakes me into dissonance.
And the white cowboys call it Autism.


Manifest Destiny

magical-childwhile waiting for my son to come out of his OT appointment at Akron Children’s
medical technicians micro manage the unfolding petals of childhood,
Ph.D.’d brains unanimously decide it should be called “development”
a forcibly renamed life cycle, diluted with the new age sorcery of
mechanical blossoming, socio-genetic programming out all signs of life
and a headmistress calls this convoluted structure of civilization: brain function.
in prostration to the wires of curriculum pasted on a state-licensed forehead
we learnt the lessons
read the writing in censored books like it was 1984 all over again
and no talk with hands, instead
hands collapsed around a pencil
must draw carefully metered forms
education specialists cannot handle a child’s life force
they call it dysfunction and disorder, its antidote: special Ed.
real “development” disables long valued, yet rotting social structures
founded by fathers who raped the children themselves, by the sweat of their brow,
before pulling a plow through the tender loam of the womb,
slipping the pistol into mother’s mouth
they’d blow away their own reflection
mirror shrapnel, intellectual entanglement
no words can suit the meaning of life, its
shoes too small, too large, too pointy and too wide, too expensive.
everyone wears shoes that do not belong to—
not every human can afford ignorance and must go out into the world
straight out of the womb in most cases,
to a brick hut where inside the teats are fashioned from petroleum by-products
and excrete the milk of printed paper or numbered plastic
sworn by the wealth and affluence of the conquistadors
who took captive shamans and bent them over bibles
and cut off their hair
and forced pure and tender places open to the self-righteous ecrement of white devils.
i know all this, yet we are all here today participating in the great tradition of Progress,
and i wait
while my innocent little boy is alone in a room with another woman
who will pretend to be his friend, trick him with a treatise for peace
while tapping his brain for its natural resources.
i will take this boat as far as the fork
and then all unexpected-like,
we will close our eyes together, each from our respective positions in space,
and materialize a bend sending us along a new course far away from here.
we shall disappear to the place of my boy’s choosing
because only his imagination is safe.
deep into the core of substance are we going. deep into the spirit of things.



Afterbirth: A Journey Through The Death Of My Self

A Graphic Novel by Hilary Krzywkowski