“Any Deaf Writers Out There?”

When I began this blog in July 2021, my primary goal at that time was to connect with people experiencing deafness in any of its forms. My counselors had suggested I reach out via blogging since my deafness prevents me from communicating in “normal” ways (in person, phone, etc.). I’ve always loved writing and in my younger days had actively submitted short fiction to publishers (and racked up rejection slips along the way). Certainly a blog could combine my love of writing with my need and desire to connect with other deaf people, I thought. So, I made the leap to WordPress.

My blog languished in the shadows for two months, virtually invisible. I plugged away at writing essays about my deaf experiences that no one wanted to read and dutifully checked my stats page every day. (What stats? They’re weren’t any to track.) My initial excitement over beginning my blog project began to wane and I found myself dreading to check my blog each day, knowing nothing had changed and not knowing what to do about it.

Finally, in late September, I came to the proverbial crossroads: my blog was going nowhere, so I could either abandon it, or try posting some of my poetry I’d had sitting around for years. What did I have to lose, I thought. No one would read it anyway.

So I posted some poetry, and views began to trickle in, with an occasional like. It was exciting to see activity after two months of silence. Now and then, a rare comment would appear, and the sensation of making a connection with someone else was both startling and welcome. And the more I posted my poetry, the more things picked up. I found the WordPress community to be the kind of place I’d always wanted to experience: a group of like-minded people sharing their hearts and souls through writing, and supporting and encouraging one another. It struck me how serendipitous this journey had become: I’d started out looking for fellow deaf people, but had found fellow writers instead. My deaf blog had switched gears and become a poetry blog, and I was seeing some progress, albeit in baby steps.

Now, perhaps I’m greedy, but I still want to find other deaf people. I need this to help me in my journey along my road to deaf acceptance. So, I’m sending out an invitation to anyone in the WordPress community who is deaf to any degree and who shares a love of writing to make yourselves known. I’d like to hear from you and have the best of both worlds by getting to know other deaf writers. I want to read about your own journeys with deafness and writing. I want to hear about how you cope with deafness, how it affects or defines your lives, if you consider it a blessing or a curse, if it has changed you as a person, if you struggle with it daily like I do or if you’ve come to accept it as part of who you are. I’m also interested in how deafness has affected your writing in terms of both style and subject matter.

It’s my personal experience that deafness is extremely socially isolating. That’s my reality. I know no other deaf or hard-of-hearing people. I don’t know sign language. My area is too rural to offer much of anything regarding deaf support services. I just want to meet other deaf writers and share our experiences and learn from them.

If you’re interested, leave a comment or use my Contact page to connect. I’d love to hear from you. My deaf essays can be found in the Essays section of my blog in case anyone cares to explore them.

Finally, thank you, WordPress community. Your kindness is appreciated. You’ve all been a bright light in what has been an otherwise dark period for me.

“A Few Haiku (10)”

(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley

(#55)

Caught like wounded prey
In sharp fangs of granite crags
Dusk sun spills its blood

…..

(#56)

Those coins that fall through
Gaps in floorboards forgotten
Like old memories

…..

(#57)

My heart recalls you
Like my broken bleeding thumb
Recalls the hammer

…..

(#58)

Do my deafened ears
Make me any less human
I hear with my heart

…..

(#59)

Scarlet gilia
Weep sweet tears in sage meadow
After thunderstorm

…..

(#60)

On my back porch step
There’s so much to think about
And so little time

“For Harley”

“For Harley”
(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley

I wonder if he ever knew his ears
Had failed him as he nosed the gravel road
Collecting scents of all that passed that way
As afternoon slipped into eventide
And xanthous-tinted rabbit brush held sway

Amid god-beams

Gilded god-beams

His pup days had long passed as elder gray
Frosted his chin and whiskers, and his gait
Had slowed as tired legs had stiffened up
And aching joints reduced him to a mere
Shadow of his bold beagle days of yore

When he was young

When we were young

His eyes—those burnished chestnut orbs that danced
And glimmered in the magic-hour rays
Of summer eves—belied his years and shone
With feisty fiery passion and the ken
Of canny canine stratagems and grim

Intensity

Vehemently

As for his tail, there wasn’t much to say
Other than it epitomized the joy
Of reckless youth, that whip-snapping white-tipped
Apostrophe above his bobbing haunch
Forever oscillating to and fro

It wagged a lot

His ears were shot

I’d stand behind him, holler out his name
And he, oblivious to all, would move
Nary a muscle nor would bat an eye
But go about his business in his world
Of silent summer farm days as the birds

Sang quietly

Spoke thoughtfully

A touch upon his back would do the trick
And he’d glance o’er at me and grin as if
To say, “Oh, there you are! Now where’s my treat?”
And having been trained well by him I’d reach
Into my pocket for a doggo snack

And he would beam

His eyes would gleam

But mostly I recall our evening walks
As day-haze settled, rabbit brush aglow
And Harley, nose to road, would pad along
Intent on scrying hidden critter trails
In search of that elusive siren song

That rabbit scent

And there he went

A brown and white torpedo like a blur
Of milk and cookies, ears jet-streamed behind
His head, and beagle-baying, “Here I go!”
And through the sage and cheat grass he would fly
His white-tipped tail zig-zagging through the maze

Of summer days

Our summer days

And I would stand and watch this ritual
This vital, sacred rite that kindled life
And filled souls overflowing as my friend
Chased rabbits in the fading of the day
Braying echoing ‘cross halcyon fields

Amid god-beams

Gilded god-beams

“A Tanka Trio (3)”

(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley

(#7)

My eyes hear what my
Ears cannot see I wash my
Mouth of bitter taste
Of memories long past and
Chase scent of elusive hope

…..

(#8)

Distant memories
Hide like frail columbines
Shade-bound ‘neath the firs
Fragile petals woe-dappled
In the meadows of my mind

…..

(#9)

To open my heart
Is a mighty task I am
Not prepared to do
I no longer hold the key
To what’s locked inside of me

“Fade”

“Fade”
(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley

Dusk has fallen as
Stars scream heavenward and doves
Murmur mournfully
Evening-song has come and I
Cannot hear day’s parting cry

Night blooms above as
Insects whisper mysteries
And wolves share solemn
Oaths on phantom breeze and I
Cannot hear dark’s somber sigh

Dawn symphony births
Strident morning melody
As birds wake the sun
And earth speaks to me and I
Cannot hear the singing sky

I have lost so much
My earth my sky autumn odes
Winter dirges spring
Soliloquies summer chants
Fading in silent echoes

And I
Cannot bear to hear them die