Murray Dunlap Brings Poetry and Insight Out of Traumatic Brain Injury

murray dunlap poetryAn Imperfect Brain

I define myself through curved glass
With my wife, I feel permitted to smile
If my brain allows, I communicate
When it does not, meditation
I spiral inward upon the reality
Recovery does not exist

The days are traumatic
As time warbles on
Even through a curve
This love is real


Defining Myself

With the traumatic brain injury, the promise of a friend cannot be taken for granted. The nuances of friendship are now blurred. The words of attachment make little sense. The word love is impossible to define. It is not months of recovery. It is years. I am only now coming to accept my handicap, 10 years later. For the first time since my accident, I can say with clarity that I, Murray Dunlap, am disabled. Put that into your reality. My acceptance includes the word disability. When did this become OK?

My lack of balance, my funny walk, are the obvious outward signals. The brain injury is entirely unseen. I can get by saying little. I can make enough sense to appear normal. If I am sitting down, this is an accomplishable goal. But, if I stand, or if I try some verbal problem solving, my mask is torn off and the reality becomes clear. If I attempt to make a new friend, prepare yourself. Disabled. Handicapped.

How did this become my truth?

At 45 years old, I have no career, and no job of any visible accomplishment. I do some things. I write some. I paint some. My wife is happy. My true friends seem happy. I am working on it. Acceptance is very, very, VERY hard to do. When you were born with so many gifts, talents, and even head starts… When you are blessed beyond most, but then put back so very far, it becomes a virtual impossibility to just get on with it. If only this…. If only that…. If if if.

I, Murray Dunlap, am disabled.

If you are truly my friend, I thank you. I was taking out our recycling and fell down the back steps. Just my balance. Nothing out of the ordinary. But, I cracked my elbow, bruised my hip and developed a migraine. I am alive. I am better for the fall. Tougher. More resilient. All of this just minutes after writing “I, Murray Dunlap, am disabled.”

It proves my point here. Yes, I am disabled, but I am in charge of it, I control it, and by damn, I am better for it. I have friends who do not belittle me for it. I embrace disability.

I am Murray Dunlap. Period.



 There is hope
Shown at the end of a torturous path
View it with the Ability
Given by the endurance of strength
And the grace of God

Almost super-human
Our ability to endure
Turn around
And take more

The display is effortless
The well-timed Ability
The showcase of our fears
Imbedded in hope

My prayer is elegant
From found to lost:
Kneel, pray, and hope

Proof Poems by Murray Dunlap
Proof Poems by Murray Dunlap —


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