What if?

by Jim Abbott

What if things were changed?
Just slightly rearranged
What if instead of being the 1%
WE WERE that other 99?
What if in it's infinite wisdom
Damn fate it had determined
That stuttered speech
Not fluency
Would be the way of speaking
For this planet's vast majority?
With the rrrrrepititions of words
And st---------uttering blocks
Being simply the way that most people talked

A impossibility you scream
Well, I will grant you
That might be as maybe
But for a little bit
I ask that you please just let
Your mind wander with me

And so, with this world of ours
Turned inside out and upside down
It would be the turn for those that didn't stutter
To stand out from the crowd
It would be not us
But they
Forced to speak in such a way
That most of those around
Would think somewhat strange

They would then know the feeling of shame
Because they were ALWAYS able to say their own name
And so humiliated they would feel about
The manner in which they were chosen to talk
You'd find them avoiding telephone calls
At almost any cost
As every time had to answer them
They could say just exactly what it is that they want
And with a sense of impending death
Overcome they'd be by embarrassment
While speaking before an audience
With their faces the color of a bright crimson red
For no hesitations they will have experienced
In any of the words that they said

Oh, they'd try to fit in
And be like us rest
To imitate our stammered speech
They'd give it their best
But just as speaking without stuttering
We are mostly unable to
What if the faking of dis-fluency
They simply could not do?
What If the foot that the shoe was on was finally the other?
In other words
What if they were unable
To make themselves stutter?

And what of this word
That we know now as stuttering?
In this brave new world
Surely there would be no need
For why would such a word as that even be
If most everyone around
Did speak just as we?
Such a label would then be unnecessary
Most unnecessary, indeed

But for those whose speech from ours
Was most quite differently
Those who spoke smoothly
So effortlessly
Why, they'd be known as "fluenters"
And their manner of speaking
We'd call it "fluenting"
And they would learn
Oh yes, they would learn
Just how very, very ugly
One word can be

This world that I speak of
For us, most unfortunately
Does so exist
But only in a dream
A kind of a vision
Of what might have been
But here in this, our reality
Is any value possessed
In these words that I said?
Probably not
Though perchance maybe
For if this world of fantasy
Can somehow, in someway
Help make us understand the fact
That our stuttered speech happened to have happened
Only just by chance
That we are not being punished for some unspeakable crime
And that perhaps
In some other time
Save for the hand of fate
We just might have been born
Into some other place
A world where those such as we
Would have been the norm

Ah yes, my friends, if only
If only
What if?

added with permission October 16, 2001