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The comedian, Jerry Lewis hosted a telethon in aid of muscular dystrophy in the USA from 1966 until 2011.

His ploy was to use disabled children, so called “Jerry’s kids”, in order to evoke pity and open wallets. 

This was very successful, and over the years he raised upwards of $2 billion to fund research into a cure.

In the process, critics claim that he belittled and demeaned disabled people.

Further, they point out that very little of the money raised went to support people with muscular dystrophy.

When faced with these criticisms, coming in large part from his ex kids, Lewis said, “Fuck them”.

As of 2017, about 50 years since the telethon began, no cure has been developed.

I am one of Jerry's kids.

blue-belly lizard

impaled on ocotillo

bleached skulls

without pity, the desert

displays its victims

Jerry Lewis

ninety one and still

weeps with pity for

‘his telethon kids’

victims on display

the dry arroyo

flash flood waters

long dormant seeds

colours erupt suddenly

desert carpet blooms


“Jerry’s kids” grow

hollowed out

in black and white

painting their lives anew

in bright colours


 published in Atlas Poetica 29


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