Breath & Shadow

A Journal of Disability Culture and Literature

Summer 2016

Volume 13 Issue 3



Breath and Shadow
Summer 2016

Volume 13, Number 3

The Loose Palace of Exile by John Thomas Allen

                How does one discern between a learning disorder like NVLD (non verbal learning disorder), which is rightfully characterized by experts like Byron Rourke and Pia Savage as a series of frustrating, often maladapting traits which should be addressed in early adolescence, and other disorders which are more pro social and adaptive to the environment society presents us with?

                As is usually the case, lived experience trumps all else. This is the purpose of all the wild, sometimes dismal, stories I have provided. My inpatient experiences at New York State Psychiatic Institute have a purpose in their telling: how does an outwardly "normal" adolescent, without considering it on any core level abnormal, end up in a locked state psych ward with nothing but a small mood disorder?

Click here to read this book excerpt

Schizophrenic Meadow by Todd Hanks

There’s a meadow where sanity departs,

On a planet inside my heart,

A field inside my mind’s deep space,

Where lucidity is erased...

Click here to read Todd’s poem

Helping Granpa Eat by Edward M. Turner

Rosemary fled the kitchen, ran through both the dining room and the living room past Grandpa watching TV, and out the screen door to the porch. The screen door hung open and slowly swung shut with a bang. Quiet descended as if invisible dust settled after the passing of a rogue summer windstorm.

Grandpa got up and went out to the kitchen. Grandma and his daughter Thelma sat at the supper table. Potatoes boiled on the gas stove.

"What was that all about?" Grandpa asked.

Click here to read Edward’s short story

This Body, Inheritance By Hayley Mitchell Haugen

Where are your ears?

I ask my niece at fourteen months,

and she grasps them in a vice-grip of hands.

Her nose she finds easily

with one steady, sober finger,

and at night she brushes her six small teeth,

smiling at her mother, waiting for the praise

that follows this big event...

Click here to read Hayley’s poems

Distractions by Diane Baumer

Steps. Words in a sentence,letters in a word, number of lines in a paragraph. Floor tiles, ceiling lights, slats that make up a window blind.

I count. Anything and everything. Odd is better than even(always) except when I'm counting with my hands or feet -- then, the counting always has to start right and end left, which makes the number even. I think that has something to do with coming full circle, with closing an opening. But whatever it is, I usually tap out an extra, so there is an odd number to finish. Evens seem so very, very unlucky.

Click here to read Diane’s essay

Sonata by Ana Garza G’z

When he was younger he “gave music

lessons to a blind kid who could hear a piece and play it

exactly.” He tells me because I’m blind. I almost say

I had lessons too, an upright piano

and sheet music on my lap, hours of fingers scrabbling

over crisp paper, over keys, left hand, right hand…

Click here to read Ana’s poem

The Space Between by Jane Ammon

hearing and silence
is where I live.

It’s lonely here,
yet I know I’m not alone.

Words I search for,
Sounds I think I know,
Voices I cannot register fully...

Click here to read Jane’s poem with accompanying photograph

Companions by Nina Fosati

I stand at the edge of the pool looking down at the clear, blue water. Five steps, that’s all it takes. Five steps and I will feel better. Aqua therapy pools are rare in Western New York. This one is perhaps rarest of all. It has a treadmill submerged in one corner. My son and I searched for weeks for one I felt safe entering. Stairs and ladders are difficult for me. We decided this one suits me best.

Click here to read Nina’s essay

Three Tanka by Sergio Ortiz

I fled the claws

of dragonflies, that’s to say

I saw a woman

singing to her shadow

she sounded just like me

Click here to read Sergio’s poems

One Of Those Days by C. Borden

There are days when getting out of bed makes my head hurt just thinking about it.  You know those days.  They are the days when every muscle in your body is screaming, telling you to keep your butt right where it is.  The days when moving even the tiniest bit is like moving a dead body.  Oh wait.  That is my body.  

Click here to read this short fiction

Concierge By Freedom Chevalier

calloused, cracked knuckles defend

against dawn's first flush

chipped nails trim grime-washed

palms, eager to work

tuck shirttail into too-big trousers, straighten frayed cuffs without sleeve-buttons;

hold open doors.

Click here to read Freedom’s poem

Blinded by Communism: A Review

by Chris Kuell
A baby develops a bad fever. Despite the state’s claims of the best medical system in the world--free for all of its citizens--the baby’s parents can’t bring him to a doctor. They can’t pay. The baby grows into a disabled boy who is considered, like all disabled people, a burden. Other children tease him, taunt him, hit him, and their parents laugh. He is forbidden to attend school. Yet, he sits outside the local two-room school and listens to the lessons. Finally, at age seventeen, he is allowed to attend a special school for people like him, far away from his family’s village. The school is expensive, so he has little money for food. He starves. Teachers beat the students. Students who complain are beaten more or thrown out. After eight years, the boy, now a man, returns to his village.

Despite being unemployable, he is taxed at the same rate the state calculates an average person in his village would be. Or, often more. He complains, and fights for his rights. He fights for the rights of others like him. He is imprisoned for more than four years for ‘disturbing the peace’.

Click here to read this book review

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