I Was Valedictorian and all I Have to Show for it is this Consolation Happy Meal Toy and other Poetry by Tyler Cordeiro

Tyler Cordeiro

By Tyler Cordeiro

A poem about having to leave college because of my improperly accommodated disabilities.

Wanderlust of the Solo-cup Beer Droplet

Just like you expected,
Leave pirate themed college
First day
Bathroom stall.
Knees to chin.
Voice echo soundwave
Of friendly frat boys arms
Interrupts sensory cave.
No hold at bay!

Ballooning ships strung
on drunk
This is too fast.
You’re not ready.
Is that your autism?
Or the sheer force
Of someone telling you
that you can’t?
you know the difference?
Do you know who you are?

It’s all too much
You are too much.
All held in too long.
You puke. Puke off the
plank because it hurts
To be told there’s nothing
Until you can’t live in
their world
Drunken outcast tie him

You try so hard.
Mom said eat healthy
But the dining hall vitamin
D (C?) tastes dull on your tongue.
Pizza ship wafers
Sustenance on ravenous
Living like them, the crew
of college vessel
Enjoying this experience,
going with the flow
Find friends, rank, love,
a place to go.
They crumble to nothing
Not worth the wretched
The shit-show.

Shit. The deep blue toilet
All screaming from the
depths of this maybe
That wrings your heart
cold ship flag
Toilet paper dry.
Oh god… why

How it sodden mingles with
high contrast sky,
How that goes down the
Spinning towards anything
So lost.

You aren’t the captain
of your life.
Can’t sail, raise hand
towards it
Each effort, no avail.
Sleep in the depth of you
Till the bell calls.
The ambulance skit
Rescue ship waiting to
take you away.
You lost control of yourself


the second poem is about my experience working at McDonalds at 17

I Was Valedictorian and all I Have to Show for it is this Consolation Happy Meal Toy

Dreams Like Fast
Food Service; Gone Fast:
Boy fired from McDonalds

Waits for a ride on the corner from
Outside, in the maelstrom
Sodden with hot oil rain sizzling on
metal grates,
Cannot face them inside, gnawing
Eating him whole like burgers and fries
on their plates,
Consuming his potential every time
he could not meet their eyes.
He does not even try to thrive.
He knows that he’d be burned alive.

The phone-clock strikes five,
tick tick,
Time goes by
It’s much too early to be outside
He needs a life.
He should be picking up his friends
after his night-shift
The teenage dancing stars,

Missed the memo,
Went to the corner, sick.
Home to mommy, burned out quick,


A home,
That was all that he wanted.
Not one given to him, but found through
Four walls, a roof, clad to keep out
A diagnosis to tell him why he was
always different

Why he could get
perfect grades but not work a cash register
He wanted big-dipper arms to fall in
like coins in hand
Assurance of his intelligence.
A land where he could rest in the pure
warmth of burning divergence
Lighting the world, brighter than those

But this is what was kept from him.
He was told he was too smart to be
Too eloquent to struggle
Too damn good at knowing why the world
pushes us forward
To never be able to drive,
Stay alive, thrive.

His heart, tenebre bread-stove of embers
Extinguished before they shine.
In the seasonal marmalade heart of
He could be saved in time
But McDonalds has already changed the
seasonal pie!

Denied, trash from which he came.
Packet lips releasing honey mustard
Made spicy by the very nurturers by
Mom, dad, doctors,
They all refused to acknowledge his
Until it swelled his tongue inept and

Thought, maybe, he’d be easier to throw
Mcnuggets container,
The outcast soapbox stage,
Cardboard crate on concrete

A home, for sure, by definition.
The “help” they gave him.
No IEP, half hearted 504,
ADHD and anxiety diagnosis.
Lacking nourishment,
In school-therapy session
Four walls, a roof, bare minimum.

Just enough support to
Box him in, smother that heart
To tell him something
was wrong but not what.
Rush cold body to life under raining

By the pure heat of their breath,
The box: distorted paper, shot with
Fights in vain,
Caves, just gives in,
The loss of life,
His death.

It was too late,
She found him in the parking lot,
Or under the rope of a disco ball moon,
Staring stoic,
Approaching death.

Taking shelter under the crate,
Rat, vermin, leech, dead weight.
Chipped bones, sharp claws.

Scratching impotently at what they
cannot reach

They deemed him creature,
Vulture of left-over scraps
Unworthy of the help he tries to take.
Their pink-milkshake brains
Slurp slurred by the impermanence
Of his intelligence, showing one moment,
Invisible the next.
Did they even try to see it?
They refused to nurture a mind,
Unable to think how they’d expect.

Refused to support a life
When not another belt in the capitalist
machine that grinds
Plastic knives:
A simple job:
Simple tasks:
Never invited
To their table.

He cries by the fast-food hut
Watches the faint stars’ home-coming
He’s out-shut, in a rut.
Life done.

He’ll be asleep, highest shelf
Plastic rope around neck
Before they even start to feast on
moldy insides of the self-kept
The restaurant buzzes on without him.
Suiting customer’s hedonism
With fake meat and faker perfection.
Just like the water
Falls all around what’s left
Of his expired aspirations

Tyler Cordeiro

Tyler Cordeiro is an authentically unique 18 year-old poet, Rhode Island native, language lover, gourmand of all things French, but mostly his cat: Artemis. He attends Allegheny College online. As a transgender, late diagnosed autistic person, he knows first hand what it’s like to feel like an outcast. Through his poetry, he attempts to start a revolution of weirdos wired together with words. He has done this by becoming the Deputy Youth Poetry Ambassador of Rhode Island, self publishing two books on Amazon entitled Salt Water Roses and How to Unobscure a Spectrum, this is just the beginning for him, but he hates to brag. All poetry aside, the only thing you should know about him is that he cares enough to change the world solely by pure will, but he’s always willing to work for it too.

4 replies on “I Was Valedictorian and all I Have to Show for it is this Consolation Happy Meal Toy and other Poetry by Tyler Cordeiro”
  1. Your poems are extraordinary. I don’t know where you tried college, but I’m a community college professor and most community colleges are really tuned in to assisting autistic persons to achieve and to be successful. A really good place to start. Frats are lousy for most – neurotypicals too. I hope you don’t give up on your education. You need to keep trying until you find the right fit. I promise you, with someone as gifted as you, it’s out there someplace. God bless you.

    1. says: Tyler

      This is Tyler. Thanks so much. I really appreciate all that you’ve said. I really pour my heart and soul into my poems. The college I was at was in rural PA and had some very kind professors. They really did try to help me. I simply did not have disability accommodations throughout my life. I got As in high school because I tend to overcompensate. I didn’t have to try and nobody saw a problem. When I got to college, I realized I couldn’t get by in all my classes by doing no work. I realized that doing the work was nearly impossible for me. (I struggle with reading written information and understanding abstract concepts) I never had an IEP to back me up or prove that I needed accommodations to succeed at my highest. I also felt pressured to make friends and had been through severe trauma that kind of caused me to isolate from everyone. I didn’t know how to reach out and I had no one back home who understood. I ended up having a mental breakdown which is why I was ultimately hospitalized. The very good news is that the professors were willing to let me continue online. I’m currently doing online schooling which is going fairly well. I actually have a 99 in French class right now (French has always been my favorite), and I’m working with a tutor in my other classes while I get my gen Eds out of the way. I have a future lined up for myself. I have much more hope and since leaving college I have been diagnosed with Irlens along with other learning disabilities that will help me to get better accommodations. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I just wanted to let you know that I’m doing much better

  2. says: Rachel Pretlow

    Thanks for sharing your poems, Tyler. I find your writing to be visceral, allowing me to feel the settings in my body. I can relate to what you have shared, including the experience of struggling with mental health in college. Writing poetry helped me get through those times too. May you get connected to the supports you need. Stay weird. We are needed.

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