Across the Spectrum, Poetry Archive


For the neurodivergent parents of neurodivergent kids

I didn’t come here to tell you I love my kids.
I came here to suck and spit venom.
Have you ever looked down to see an arrow of your own making
sticking out of your chest? That’s the job.
I drag myself to the edge of the battlefield to pull these arrows out through the other side.
I have been paying myself first, but honestly? I am hanging on by a tenuous spider’s thread.
My responsibilities have sucked all the stone out of my bones and the meat from my muscles;
Brittle I scrape across the ground;
spite and stubbornness are the heaviest things I can carry
are what hold me to the ground.
The only fuel I have to toss into this engine
is the compressed mineral of rage.

    1. Because there is nowhere to put this!
    1. Because I get shocked snatching you back from live wires
    1. Because I had to jump on the grenade you unlocked
    1. Because you start fights that I have to finish
    1. Because some lessons you are still too young to learn
      1. Even though you wanna talk that big talk!

And yet, when they tear the night open with screams
Clawing out of nightmares, sickness, or pain
Whose name is the only one they remember?
And when their need calls out to my purpose
I slip past the memory of bullshit, belligerence, and gall
to find someone small – just a baby, eyes shining.

“I’m here, my love. I got you. You’re safe.”

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Filed under: Across the Spectrum, Poetry Archive


Atena O. Danner (she/her) is an unapologetically Black time-travelling poet-activist who dwells in the past to survive the future. She writes toward beloved community, Black liberation, and collective imagination. Atena has poems published in 'Shelter in This Place: Meditations on 2020,' 'Struggle, Elevate, Celebrate: An Anthology of Women’s Voices' and in the inaugural issue of ‘understory quarterly' an independent online zine. She lives north of Chicago with her partner and 2 free Black children. Her first poetry collection will be published in 2022. Website: