Zebras Got Talent 2023

Lisa Hopper – Creative Writing & Music


Zebra Strong

If you could see from the outside how my body looks within you’d see cuts and scars, bruises and marks , redness all over my skin.

You’d see my bones as they dislocate, my tissues as they tear and all of my organs move out of place as my collagen can’t hold them there.

But I am part of a group of warriors and that’s where I belong.

We are kind .We are brave. We are Zebra Strong.

Leah Harris – Drawing


Sami Leyde – Dance


Monika Rakowska – Drawing

Dawn Meredith – Drawing

Donna Southern – Painting

Emily Cree – Painting

Erica Fuller – Music

Amicie Koslow – Creative Writing

Landscape of youth

In a museum that I rarely revisit
Hangs a vacant portrait
Cobweb covered and Ancient
I have no desire to restore it

Paintings do not age like fine wine
They dull and wither with time
Tilted, worn and no longer in its prime
This particular work
Is no favorite of mine

A noticeably absent inhabitant
Has in their rush left abandoned,
Left all too eagerly, apprehensively
A landscape of a life once lived

Painted with messy
Of peeling dollar-store paint
Hastily bought for a forgotten birthday

Never proudly hung on on a refrigerator
Washes of Watercolors warp printer paper,
An amateurish spread of clashing pigments,
And hardly contained anger
Construct on this empty canvas
A foundation made of bare bones, a house
Never called home

A box of four decaying walls, rotting
Cheaply covered by veneer
Whose four eyes, eight panes
Framed by ligneous, limb-like jambs
Are no windows to the soul

Slanted roof, an attic,
A refuge on stilts
From the Flood
Rising down below
That slowly creeps up on
Too tall legs

The Narrow stairwell
Up and up
Muddy water slams itself against A
chipping, unhinging wooden door
Moisture staining the carpet floor

This painting is not worth
A thousand words
It can be summed in three,
A bad memory.

Amy Hufker – Video Performance

Fable Farm – Music

Freddie Higgins – Music

Gemma Leary – Dance

Janet Sinnott – Drawing

Julia Fleischhauer – Drawing

Kaili Wasson – Graphic Design

Rachel Lynch – Graphic Design

Renata Ruiz – Creative Writing

Samantha Valentine – Painting

Sarah Clark – Graphic Design

Stefania Ramos – Painting

Taylor Foltz – Photography

Vicki Peterson – Creative Writing

Collagen, It’s Not Your Fault by Vicki Peterson
It’s not your fault, collagen. You’ve been blamed for so much, haven’t you?
I spent my entire lifetime wondering what the hell is wrong with me- and it’s you, collagen. But still, it’s not your fault.
I’m here now, ready to listen and offer support. It’s hard when you’re not enough. Trust me, I know what that feels like.
It can be easy to blame you collagen, for all my difficult feelings around surviving decades of chronic pain and fatigue. The guilt over missed events- at least, the ones I really did want to go to. The insecurity of not knowing from moment to moment whether I will be well enough to show up, and how that might look to others. The tiredness of being tired, the frustration of being unable to do more, the sadness and shame of being “not enough” in so many ways that reach beyond my jacked-up extracellular matrix.
Collagen, I am hypervigilant about calendars and schedules because knowing exactly what is happening at all times helps me prioritize where my energy is needed most. I try to conserve elsewhere to meet the need. Because of you, collagen, managing a calendar that prioritizes my health and also allows me to be present for those who are most important in my life is an art, science, and a Sisyphean torture device.
But it’s not your fault. You were born this way, and I am dedicated to loving you as you are, according to what you need.
I am mindful. I meditate, breathe, and pray. I do my prescribed, specialized, full-body physical therapy, and I’m committed for as long as it takes. I take my oxygen, vitamins, antioxidants, probiotics and fiber. I take all my meds at the right times, in the right ways, six times a day. I wear my compression socks, drink electrolytes, soak in epsom salt baths, strengthen my pelvic floor, and drain my lymphatic system. I go to craniosacral therapy, massage therapy, and therapy- therapy. I wear my braces as advised, and I move my body on the hour. I avoid anything that makes me flare, including alcohol, heat, crowds, noise, headlines, and assholes.
I used to cope by minimizing my pain, playing down my symptoms, pushing myself too hard to show up and paying for it later, and staying invisible (because no one likes a complainer, right?) I abandoned my own body through dissociation and distraction, because “it hurts” and “I need help” didn’t feel like safe things for me to say at the time. I had to take a good hard look at why that was, and I had to get away from the kind of people who said things like, “why can’t you just suck it up” before I could be truly honest about what hurt. And everything on that path lead me to understand you better.
I love you, collagen. And I’ll go to as many doctors as needed until we find the right ones. It’s taken us a lifetime already, so what’s another four-hour drive for specialists?
It was never your fault, collagen, for not being enough. It’s ableism’s fault for making you think you had to be more than what you already are. And I’m proud of you for getting us this far.

Meghana Venkatesha – Painting

Sign up to The Ehlers-Danlos Society mailing list