The Masked Elf with Autism: A Gimpy Monologue

By Joseph Casarez

Autism- it’s one of those invisible “conditions” and one that I live with.  Integrating into the social world took time and practice, but eventually that mask falls apart.  Family, friends and co-workers who do not know the true self behind the mask, experience the consequences.  There have been wounded friendships, hurt family members and puzzled colleagues and it can lead to some hard thinking and finding ways to repair and heal those relationships.  Here is a poem from one of agony.


People would be better off

If the chains that bind me to them

are melted by venom

They should leave

this vigilant elf that

injects an episode of pleasure

Into their lives

and the next day

his face changes

and it’s not the same joker

He is instead a vindictive broker

gambling with the emotions

of his trusted friends and

close family

and they are all affected

by his disease of the mind

It would be better if they simply

left the wild, depressing little elf.


The Paratransit Prophet

pic of harold chernry

My friend, Harold Daniel Cherney would’ve been 70 today. He passed away three years ago, due to the fact that polio had left his body in an unfavorable condition, and if I remember correctly, he was also suffering from muscular dystrophy. Toward the end of his life, he grew increasingly frustrated by his physical limitations. I however, prefer to remember him as the Paratransit Prophet. Harold was the epitome of a modern-day Renaissance man. He was a disabled rights advocate, an artist in both the traditional and digital sense, storyteller, a poet… But above all that he was the no bull shit Sage. He’s one of the reasons I finished my Associates degree in multimedia, a program which focused primarily on 3-D graphics and animation; something he was extremely handy with. He often gave me a much needed trip to his own dark places, and as we commiserated, he showed me that there was a way out. A proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. It’s for him that I write this.

Paratransit Prophet with your futuristic space chair,

Hydraulics abound, it’s as if you were floating on air.

Artistic vision the likes of which I’d never seen,

the beauty of the mind’s eye shines a light like heavens beam.

Modern-day artist, and digital revolutionary.

I write this tell you that the burden was not yours alone to carry.

Your light, it shines, it continues burning bright.

I’ll continue to illuminate those dark places,

That we spoke of day and night.

I’m sorry that I wasn’t there toward the end.

I felt there was nothing I could say, do, or recommend.

I hope you can forgive me, because in the end…

I’d like to believe that it’s what someone does after the end, how are memory lives on that marks a friend.

There’s nothing in the world I can ever do to thank you enough,

For being there for me when times were truly rough.

Except to carry your memory with me,

And carry on your mission,

To make the world a better place, and stop this shitty cultural fission.

And maybe one day I’ll take your place,

As the Paratransit Prophet in this time and space.

But the man known as Harold Daniel Cherney, I can never replace.

A Love’s Farewell

Even though you feel as though I’m gone

I will always be here

Shards of glass and utter darkness may have taken me away

But so long as I remain in your heart

By your side I will stay

Remember the last time I was in your warm embrace

When my heat was in your every open space

Remember as I was, your life’s greatest love

Accept me as I’ve gone, but I will protect you from above

But I must confess, three things I will miss

Your loving warmth, your voice, and your sweet and gentle kiss

8-Bit 9 to 5

Multicolored pixels dance across the surface of my mind,
They determine my reality.
Always colorful, but flat and 2D,
It forces me to really think, “Is this really me?”
Gotta get those coins, and save the silly princess from her pixelated strife.
This is just the story of my NES life,
Doing the 8-bit, 2D daily grind.
Simply working that 8-bit 9 to 5.


Someone once said that we’re all actors on a stage,
I think he means to tell us that life is grand play.
But if I were its writer, I’d tear out many a page.
I’d rewrite it without a need for masks, It’s better that way.
All the pain we conceal and the anguish we hide,
In false smiles and happiness unreal,
In an unrealistic image we feel we must abide
Rather than searching for our own, individual royal seal.
The masks we wear are heavy, the take great strength to bear.
Just take it off, a needless accessory that one should never wear.
A product of social learning and psychic wounds,
Rather than allowing us to bask in the light and glory of our own brilliant moons.

If I Could Explain

If I Could Explain

If I could explain
How you brought a new kind of life to my world
I would.

If I could explain
how you made me feel beautiful
I would.

If I could explain
how you gave me a piece of myself that I thought I lost
I would.

If I could explain
how you made me feel more loved than I thought I could ever be
I would.

If I could explain
how you taught me that love means loving in spite of not getting what we want
I would.

If I could explain
how every time I sit at a park underneath the night sky, I’ll crave your embrace
I would.

If I could explain
how you taught me that making others happy is what brings us closer to humanity.
I would.

If I can explain
how the very thought of you made my mistakes seem miniscule, like I could be made new
I would.

If I could explain
how you made me feel human, instead of just some mistakenly divine tool.
I would.

If I could explain
how you made me feel intelligent again, instead of simply everybody’s fool.
I would.

If I could explain
how these and many more reasons left unspoken are the reason the words “I love you” will never be enough
I would.

If I could explain
how you taught me that it was okay to need someone and not be weak
I would.

If I could explain
how you made me feel stronger, and not so much a freak
I would.

If I could explain
how I don’t give a damn if anyone else likes this or not, it was only meant for you
I would.
Oh wait, I just did.

What’s the Difference?

What’s the difference?

You given your body,

but not your mind.

What’s the difference?


You give me your mind,

maybe even your body,

but in me,

you still won’t let your soul unwind.

What’s the difference?


You saved should be easy,

you saved should’ve already happened.

But you make it so complicated,

leaving hearts in your wake simply saddened.

I ask you again: what’s the difference?