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Breath & Shadow

A Journal of Disability Culture and Literature


 

 

Breath and Shadow


The Girl, After The Long Dry Spell, New Dress By Rachael Z. Ikins


Where is the laughing naked girl

draped on a log spontaneous spring

woods and trillium all around her for her lover's camera?


Who is this woman hungry just to see?

Cataracts, no vernal waterfall. What a choice, blindness or terror...



Click here to read Rachael’s poems




Three Word Memoir By Izabela Jeremus


Addiction takes lives. First, it empowers. Answers, you think. All depression, gone. Mental illness, handled. I can stop. You tell yourself. You believe it. Addiction lies, though. It'll take control.



Click here to read Izabela’s creative essay




Before the Diagnosis, t6, Love Letters Series Poem V By Heather Ace Ratcliff



i used to think that the

iron scaffolding of my ribcage

was strong enough to guard

the bruised filigree of my ruby heart -

until i heard the buzzing prescience

and learned how it felt when the tubercle slipped from the vertebrae and i was exposed...



Click here to read Heather’s poems




Budding By Michelle Zhuang


The garden of my body is growing. My sister tells me, while we are perusing the Walmart greenhouse, that I need a little color on me. She chooses violets when I really want sunflowers, batting my hand away when I reach for the small labeled packet. “But then how would you walk?” she asks, laughing as she presses each small seed into the freshly packed dirt of my hand.

 


Click here to read Michelle’s short story




At The Expense of Joy: Human Rights Violations Against Human Beings with Autism Via Applied Behavioral Analysis By Dr. Kelly Levinstein



Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), a multi-billion dollar cottage industry in the United States, is based on the work of Dr. O. Ivar Lovaas, who borrowed the principles from his experiments attempting to cure feminized boys at risk of homosexuality (Rekers & Lovaas, 1974) and the accompanying aversive of electric shock and corporal punishment. Lovaas used the rationale that homosexual behavior was (in California at the time) illegal. Moreover, he also shared the same fundamentalist Christian values as the parents who brought their children in for alleviation of feminine symptomology and possible homosexuality.



Click here to read Kelly’s paper




Grandma’s Closet By Jennifer Gifford



I remember how it felt to disappear

Into the past of grandma’s closet.

My dressing room.

The smell of White Linen

Hanging thick in the air...



Click here to read Jennifer’s poem




The Boy By Edward M. Turner



William poured sugar in his coffee and stirred it thoughtfully.


Tom glanced at him. "How was your weekend?"


William gave a bleak smile. "Don't ask." He sipped his coffee. "We had a lousy time.


Didn't pull into our driveway until two this morning."


"Tired, huh?"


"Tom, that's the least of it." William stared out the coffee shop's picture window at the afternoon traffic.




Click here to read Ed’s short story




Black Kripple: Review and interview

By Erika Jahneke



There is a lot written today in Movement circles, any movement really, about intersectionality and the way different forms of oppression, such as racism, sexism, and ableism overlap. You can ponder these concepts or watch them in action by reading Leroy Franklin Moore Jr.’s "Black Kripple Delivers Music and Lyrics"



Click here to read Erika’s review and interview




Willowbrook By Jessica Goody


You were my great-uncle, or would have been,

if such familial labels applied to one long-dead

and never met. After you were born, you were

placed in an asylum for crippled rag dolls...



Click here to read Jessica’s poem




My Cup Runneth Over - Not By Anakalia




Occasionally, I check out the selection of vessels at a drugstore for one large enough to collect and transport radioactive waste. Recycled Styrofoam cups or hot tea containers from McDonalds can be used, though a child proof drinking cup with a smooth lip works better to prevent spillage when peeing in a cup.



Click here to read Anakalia‘s creative essay




Time and Music By Dorothy Baker


Nearly engulfed in six foot tall goldenrod, the shed, empty but for a ping pong table and a nation of spiders, bides its remaining time.


Arthritic joists, porous sills like aging bones, eroding under the weight of eighty winters, feebly, precariously, support the tarp-covered roof...



Click here to read Dorothy’s poem


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


Baptism by Linda A. Cronin


Three times a week, I come to the pool

at Children’s Specialized Hospital to exercise.

Even in the middle of winter, the warm, moist air

reminds me of the humid days of summer. Since

I’m unable to descend the ladder or to walk on land,

when I am ready Pam transfers me to a stretcher

which is lifted out over the pool then lowered gently

into the water where Sue stands ready to release me.


Click here to read Linda’s poem




Mutability, New Mexico by Mark A. Murphy


What is she doing out here in the suburbs, so far

from her woodland home, surveying the yard next door?

Perhaps she hungers for worldly things,

human yards paved with gold?


Oh, we know, she is no magpie, and still

the nude silver-birch loves her kind

as we love them both in their kindnesses...

Click here to read Mark’s poems



Crushed by Douglas Kolacki


Is it a sin to love a person who doesn't return it?


It all depends on whether the poor wretch asked for it. That is, dreaming once too often of his beloved, calling her to mind again and again until she’s stuck there, igniting a fury of emotions and now what's he to do about it?


Forget the obvious answer, for she's already taken. Or, if she's noticed him, sees not a Prince Charming but a Norman Bates. This is the age of crazies and stalkers.


Perhaps it's no sin, but it brings sin's consequences all the same. If the Spanish inquisitors could have tapped into this fever for the purpose of extracting confessions, they'd have done so. If you could measure it with something like a Geiger Counter, it would peg the scale. If you could pinpoint it on a geo-synchronous comsat, how many tiny white sparks would you see, scattered across the land masses of the earth?




Click here to read this short story


Mental Illness And The Positives of Labeling by Denise Noe


When discussing my condition with mental health professionals, I often found myself frustrated and stymied.


What is wrong with me?” I would ask.


Very often, the answer was, “I don’t like to get into labeling.”


Repeatedly, I found people would say things like, “I don’t think labels mean much.”


Some people believed labels, at least as applied to mental disorders, were “unnecessarily confining.”


It seemed to me that the lack of a label left me in the lurch. For most of my life, people have been flummoxed by my behavior.




Click here to read Denise’s essay



Neurodivergency, Mastectomy by Jessica Goody


I survived the Holocaust of birth,

the poison palace of the womb.

One quadrant of my brain is blank, 

oxygen lost like air from a broken balloon.

In my mind’s eye, that hollow is dark, 

a clotted cave of scar tissue. Elsewhere, 

brain pathways are lit like switchboards, 

thoughts blinking like turn signals.

You can see the nerve-socket glow,

trace its trail from synapse to cell...



Click here to read Jessica’s poems




A Memory of Flowers by Sandra M. Odell


Benjamin picked at his ragged cuticles.


Did you ever read that book? That flowers book?”


Ellen found herself playing with her wedding band. She laced her fingers together and set her hands neatly on her lap.


Flowers for Algernon.”


They sat on a stone bench near the flower beds in the back garden. Stair steps of red and purple tulips caught sunlight in their petal cups. From somewhere near-by came the putter of a lawnmower, the laughter of children.


Yeah. I’m that Algernon guy.”


Every week Benjamin made the same observation, and every week Ellen’s heart broke a little more when she reminded him, “Algernon was the mouse. You’re thinking of Charlie.”




Click here to read Sandra’s short story





Many Nights in ’76 by Lee Todd Lacks


Had I been fully aware,

I surely might have crumbled,

but I was seven and resilient.

My frenetic mind deferred

the gravity of the loss,

transforming it

into a temporary fear…



Click here to read (and listen) to Lee Todd’s poem


Cisalpine Gaul by Mark Cornell


The morning sky is silver. A smoking white sun threatens to break through the clouds. Fog snakes around the top of the nearby giant mountains. Pine forests stretch down to the lake. A beam of sunlight trickles down a light blue patch of sky to thaw my cold hands. The lakes of Lombardy were formed in the Ice Age, carved out by vast glaciers as they flowed down from the Swiss Alps; Alps which tower over half of the sky.



Click here to read Mark’s story




The Raising of Lazarus by Ada Hoffmann


He thought himself blinded, at first,
until the grave-clothes tore away and his eyes
blinked cold and gritty in the noon light.
He could make out faces, which meant nothing
at first, not with the wailings of unpardoned souls
so fresh in his ears. He mumbled a greeting,
tried to understand why his sisters wept for joy
when he was dead, when all men were clay...


Click here to read Ada’s poem





Fishhook by Joanne Rixon


There's a gun. She likes its crisp, clear edges, the solid weight in her hand when she sits cross-legged on the bed in her dingy apartment. The room is dim at mid-day, because she's closed all the blinds to shut out the sky.


The bare lightbulb flickers. The other is burned out and she can't be bothered to fix it. The metal is warm on her palm as she dismembers the pistol, and it's still warm as she puts it back together.



Click here to read Joanne’s story





Will I Remember by Emily Hart


I set the alarm for sunrise minus ten
dress quickly in the clothes I laid out
on the chair the night before,
go down the stairs,
counting off the two flights,
knees stiff, reluctant
but obedient...



Click here to read Emily’s poem



Expanding and Contracting Worlds: A Review by Chris Kuell


I’m always looking for book suggestions, so when my friend told me that her book group loved the novel, Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes, I made a mental note to check it out.


When she told me it was sorta-kinda a love story between a man in a wheelchair and his care-giver, I started to have second thoughts. I am definitely not a fan of contrived, heart-wrenching love stories (think anything by Nicholas Sparks) or fictional works written about characters who are disabled by authors who aren’t. Now—before I’m engulfed in hate mail, I fully understand that many fictional characters are conceived and even written quite well by authors who have never been a pedophile (Lolita) or cast a spell (Harry Potter) or cloned a dinosaur (Jurassic Park). However, I have read works where authors have ‘imagined’ what it must be like to be disabled (think pathetic and/or inspirational, because despite their blindness, they can tie their own shoes!! ) which made me cringe and choke back vomit.




Click here to read this review

Lessons from the Gimp Ghetto by Heidi Johnson-Wright




Being a gimp doesn’t mean you ain’t a gimp hater.


By the time I graduated from high school, I’d already been disabled for a decade. My assailant was rheumatoid arthritis. The disease caused my immune system to launch an absurd attack on my body, and destroyed my joints with lightning speed. At 18, I still walked as much as I could, but I sometimes had to use a wheelchair. I hated the damn thing, and hid it in the corner of my room.


Click here to read Heidi’s essay


After the ER Waiting Out a Storm in a Trailer by Kitty Eppard



she knows everything raging out there

everything twisting inside the sudden knocking

shifts in the siding clicks like desperate rodents

she knows what she can let in and what must be kept away…



Click here to read Kitty’s poem






Seeking the Seal by Katy Wimhurst



A cumulus cloud drifts across a clear spring sky. To Alana, resting on her sofa, staring out of the window, it seems to be the shape of a seal with a God-like beard. A seal god, she thinks. What'd that be like? Would it ponder the divinity of diving, the worship of waters, the beatitudes of blubber?



Click here to read Katy’s short story







The Special Ed Teacher Collects Dead Mice by Aleph Altman-Mills



She is made of toilet pipe rust.

She is shaped like a snake.

The first thing she did when she crawled out of the bowl is strangle a man and call it a hug.

She buried him in a prestigious cemetery and said she had made it possible for him to fulfill his dreams…



Click here to read Aleph’s poem







Seven Lessons I’m Learning from the Ocean by Wendy Kennar




The ocean has always enchanted me. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I’m a Pisces. Maybe it’s simply that, near the ocean, I experience levels of awe, peace, contentment, and hope that I don’t experience on a regular basis during my day-to-day life.


My daily reality involves living in busy, crowded Los Angeles, bombarded by the sounds of helicopters, ambulances, and car alarms.



Click here to read Wendy’s essay







Time Well Spent by Emily Dorffer




Alan pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket and dabbed at the blood at the corner of Amanda’s mouth. She whispered an apology before lapsing into another coughing fit. Only the black clock in the otherwise completely white hospital room watched them. Seconds marched past, each tick ringing in Alan’s ears like a funeral toll.



Click here to read Emily’s short story






Set, Uncover, Dead Fly by Crimson Blackstone



The shroud fatigued

Busy gatherings draining mass beneath

Hiding immobility, burdening its whispers in the untold

Furrowing as wings folding around failing bonfires

Curling against the troubler in knowing ignorance

Lift the curious protrusions and hold in place its pasty platforms…



Click here to read Crimson’s poems







The River Voice by Madeleine parish



Executive Summary. Marketing Strategy. Financial Analysis. Management and Advisory Personnel.”


As she made her way from her West Campus dorm to her Advanced Marketing Seminar on the Quad, Tran Huong Giang ticked off the sections of the business plan she had written for her final class project.


The app she had designed—called, “To You!”—would allow connection-starved millennials to send a drink to someone they’d spotted across a bar, someone they’d like to know, if they were too shy—or too cool—to introduce themselves the old-fashioned way.



Click here to read Madeleine’s short story







Green Tongues, Ah, 50! by Louie Crew Clay



Welcome to half a century


I hit that mark 28 years ago.

Now I notice it mainly by a new spot

on my hand, a new mole around my eyelid,

a new sharpness in the lower right arm...



Click here to read Louie’s poems


Romans Angry About the Inner World-And I Have Felt it by Lynda McKinney Lambert

The Two Worlds” is a central theme in many poems written by American poet, author, and translator - Robert Bly.


I have been fascinated by Bly’s poetry since I was first introduced to it many years ago. There is always the image of a “world” or “The Two Worlds” in his work. And, along with the image of The Two Worlds is the implication that somehow there is a battle or tension between two worlds; or a conquest of one world over another. He speaks often of an “internal/inner” world and an “external/outer” world.



Click here to read Lynda’s essay


The Beachcomber of Dong Hoi by Addison Trev


With the sun high in the sky and all the locals siesta-ing, one brown face — formerly pale, less formerly burnt and peeling — wandered around the beach. The eyes flitted to and fro across the sand, standing out wildly from the haggard, bearded face. His path too, slow and halting, was erratic. If one were to watch for a long time, it might be observed that he covered the ground with little redundancy, but certainly it did not appear so at a glance. Over his right shoulder was slung an old fishing net — tied, retied and finally abandoned, now his. In his left hand, a black faux-leather briefcase — missing its handle, so suspended by fraying cords braided out of plastic bags.



Click here to read Addison’s short story






Of Pokémon and Poe by MC Augstkalns



I'm in the throes of a nasty mixed episode, possibly my worst yet, and I'm talking online, via Facebook, to my friend who is also bipolar.


I've been wildly manic before, and I've been depressed, and I've been mixed, but I can't remember right now if I've ever been this mixed, and it's nice to have someone to talk to who understands. My mother was bipolar the exact same way I am, but she died when I was ten.


Earlier we were talking about how last week I was feeling suicidal, but because I am totally incapable of sticking to a topic for more than a few minutes at a time, our conversation has shifted, after many twists and turns, to Pokémon. Gotta catch 'em all!



Click here to read MC Augstkalns’ flash essay






Love Just A Fairy Tale, Loss is Grief, The Past A Galloping Horse by Lee Landau




Lighting attached to joists,

spots the distance down.

Ex- lover sits in the first row,

ticket complimentary.


Eyes aghast stare upward,

anxious about aerial missteps…



Click here to read Lee’s poems





Transformation by Sarah Kelderman



Cynthia always knew she could fly. She watched birds out her bedroom window, soaring through the air, above houses and tree tops and up to the clouds and to the deep blue sky, and knew she was really one of them. That she was just stuck in a human body. She needed to be free. She'd close her eyes, pretend she was up there, wind through her feathers and the land below, floating on air currents and warm wind.


She balanced on fences, teetered on the edges of rooftops, arms spread, willing them to become wings, empty air before her.



Click here to read Sarah’s short story







Ricochet of Sorrow by Jay Dashefsky



Struggling up the hill but it won't

be long


Before tomorrow's yesterday is gone


Walking down your hallway and then

move on


Want to see a new beginning and

ending.




Click here to read Jay’s lyrics








Selkies: Domestic Violence & Animism by Heather Awen




In myths, a Selkie is a Seal Woman who has had her pelt stolen by a human man and unless she gets it back, she is his wife against her will. I once met an Alexandrian Wiccan woman who called herself Selkie. We were at a women’s only Reclaiming Witchcraft event and her husband, also an Alexandrian, was very, very angry at her for being at a women only event. Her name may have said far more than she ever realized.

In stories about Selkies, as a child, I was mostly horrified that as soon as the Selkie stole back her skin she abandoned her children when she raced back to the sea to rejoin her seal community. What I should have wondered was why she didn’t murder the human male who trapped her.



Click here to read Heather’s essay







Part-Time Sclerotic Destruction By Kate Holly-Clark



The day my doctor said

"we'll fight through this thing with you"

I stared at her

like she had lost her

last marble

because really,

I could not picture

her in gambeson and maille

by ll bean,

falchion by vera wang--

I already felt

like I'd started

the stupid world war doughboy slog…



Click here to read Kate’s poem







One Use for the Elderly by Lyn McConchie



They came marching down the road, bright young faces, singing some song old Anaru couldn’t understand. Their uniforms were clean, their boots shined, and their sergeant and officer marched with them. Anaru smiled, both men were on his side of their column. He laid the sights of his ancient rifle on the sergeant, breathed in slowly, held the shot for a fraction of a second and fired. His forefinger flipped up in the reload that had given his great-great-grandfather such firing speed in the First World War, and he shot again.


Click here to read Lyn’s short story






Sick Day by Austin Wallace




I can escape, almost, past

eyes that stare. Feet bare

I squish through mud, puddles


forming in my heart. Darting

through the river, fish dodge

jagged stones, worries swarm


like flies I soon outrun…



Click here to read Austin’s poem







The Troubling Depiction of Disability in 300 by Denise Noe




Few recent movies are as troubling in their depiction of disability as the 2007 film 300. This movie is bizarre, and sometimes contradictory, in several ways.

Directed by Zack Snyder, 300 is adapted from a graphic series by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley. Like the Miller-Varley graphics, the film is a highly fictionalized and fanciful retelling of an actual historic event, the Battle of Thermopylae, at which a military alliance of Greek city-states attempted to repel an invasion led by Persia’s King Xerxes.




Click here to read Denise’s essay





Pole Position By Zachary Houle



When I drove into the other vehicle

Bumped out into the rumble strip

I was stunned

The realism of the surroundings stunning, too (For its time)

For a minute, I forgot where I thought I really was

In Japan…




Click here to read Zachary’s poem






Lincoln Avenue by Roy A. Barnes




Why is my life so pathetic? Donovan Lovell thought to himself over and over again during an unexpected business trip which had brought him back to an old haunt. It was situated in the Middle of Nowhere, Wyoming. Spare time after lunch afforded him the opportunity to re-visit the town’s nine block stretch called Lincoln Avenue. Donovan had his reasons for heading there. It was the place of his youth - the only place he really felt at home, a cocoon from the realities of growing up. Now his life seemed nothing but harsh realities.


He drove to his old address in a mid-sized, non-descript rental car. Its radio blared out a classic tune from Debby Boone.




Click here to read Roy’s story


The Other Side by Larry Schreiber



From the east window of my living room, I can see Lobo Peak.


My home is in a valley, in San Cristobal, New Mexico. I’m surrounded by mountains. I know all their names: Pueblo Peak, El Salto, Lobo; to the west, San Antonio and Ute; southwest, Picuris Peak, Truchas and Jemez. Sometimes, up in the mountains, I can just about make out Georgia O’Keefe’s Pedernal.

Names are important. Naming anything brings it closer, as if it’s a secret you’ve found out. Like naming a disease. Does naming it bring it closer? Do you then become the disease? Are you still the same person, but in a new geography? As a doctor, I’m always looking for the name—could it be idiopathic Parkinson's? Or, Parkinson’s-like symptoms, caused by a stroke or head trauma?


Click here to read Larry’s essay







Three Tanka by Sergio Ortiz


where


is your native land?


dipped in mud,


my head covered


with the thin blanket of poverty



Click here to read Sergio’s poems




Auditorium by Jordan Johnson



The room was uncomfortably warm and humid, the way rooms full of people seem to get. I sat before them all, bright beams from the stage lighting only adding to the heat and discomfort of this place. The rows of people in studio seating combined with the hot, moist air made me feel like I was gazing into the maw of some unnaturally large beast, and for an instant, I understood why the fear of death is second only to the fear of public speaking. The glass eyes of the small legion of cameras only added to my discomfort, and I could see even the members of the crew were reflecting the eager looks of the crowd.


Row upon row of silent people watched me as I stared back from the plush leather of the chair next to the host. With all of those eyes watching me, I felt paralyzed, and I jumped when the man who introduced me to the crowd before the break touched my shoulder.



You okay?” He said quietly, but we both knew the microphones on the collars of our shirts caught it perfectly.



Click here to read Jordan’s short story





Diabetes versus Mom’s Brownies by Ruth Z. Deming


No, it's not in the family


no, I'm not overweight


no, I don't drink soda or eat Tastykakes.


It was the lithium that did it


ruined my kidneys


those impeccable filters


that keep our insides clean


Click here to read Ruth’s poem







Blind Eyes by Nancy Scott



1.Sandy got her first artificial eyes as an infant. She grew so fast that every few months she'd get new ones in the mail. Imagine hearing your mother say, "Your eyes are here."

2.I was told the woman who lived downtown had several pairs and she liked to wear one each of different colors to see if sighted people noticed.


3. In a chat room, I heard about the Social Services person who needed verification of this guy's blindness. He popped out his eyes and asked, "Will this do?" It did.



Click here to read Nancy’s creative essay







Chasing Grief by Ann Chiapetta



Fear catches my

heart like Fleece on thorns

Delicate wisps of hope helplessly snagged


Upon Sharpened, wicked little prongs of fate.


I want to pluck the tufts, rescue

Them from the brambles

Ask the fragrant meadow breeze to deflect the pain, the sorrow.




Click here to read Anne’s poem








Valentine by E. A. Lawrence



The dog follows me. I can't explain why, I don't really know. I see him hulking along behind me from the corner of my eye. Sometimes I just see a shadow flitting along the ground. I try to tell myself it's not him; it's just a squirrel or a possum. The only problem is that I've never seen a squirrel or a possum shaped quite like that, all huge with a hump and long stiletto legs with a fluffy tail.


I know his name is Valentine. He told me so one day. I was sitting, waiting for the G-28 bus; it was running the usual ten minutes late. Then I felt the paw, his paw, thump my right shoulder. My ear hairs, the really tiny ones like white downy fuzz, all stood so tight on end it hurt. His breath rasped against my skin just when I thought that ear couldn't get any more hot and uncomfortable.




Click here to read E.A.’s short story



No Longer Need I Be Afraid, A Thousand Hertz by Lee Todd Lacks



Tiny black blot on the horizon

Dreadful thing

I saw it coming

For years, I've been waiting, when

there was nothing left to fear.

No longer need I be afraid.

In a dimly-lit office,

outside of town, after hours,

the usual examination, the grim prognosis;

this thin thread's breaking from a twenty-year weight.




Click here to read (audio versions also available) Lee Todd’s poems








I Remember by Debbie Johnson



I remember jumping rope, including double jumps and 'hot peppers' at recess when I was in elementary school. I can still feel the exhilaration of jumping the longest or the fastest, and the occasional embarrassment at tripping over my own little feet.

I remember running track when I was in junior high. I was never fast, but I was very persistent. I still recall the feeling of satisfaction the first afternoon I ran five miles.

I remember square dancing in the high school gym. There were dances held there with the lights turned down after the chilly autumn football games. I remember the anticipation while waiting for someone to ask me to dance, and the closeness of our feet during our awkward adolescent years. We would try so hard not to kick each other as we moved, but it would almost always happen.


Click here to read Debbie’s essay






Longing By Tony Caterina



She lived in the apartment most of her adult life. Memories that had been forgotten waited to be thought of again there in the one bedroom, third floor dwelling. She would occasionally stumble across something that would invoke the past, bringing a picture to her mind and a smile. Thoughts of happier times when the apartment was full of life, when memories were being made, when there was laughter and when there was love, were distant. The one bedroom collected dust as she moved about slowly and alone. With the passing of her spouse, solitude was the only answer. It was there in the morning upon waking and it was there in the evening when the lights were turned off. It was not an easy existence, as anyone who has been alone knows. It was there, the call, the sadness, the longing.




Click here to read Tony’s short story



Love Poem to Autism, Love Poem to Words
by Aleph Altman-Mills

They say I fixate,

the way I line up

my magazines.

My fingers swoop down the bindings,

Beecher's is so soft it tickles,

and I crumble

into giggles…


Click here to read Aleph’s poem


Sheep May Safely Graze by Lyn McConchie



The woman who lay in the bed was old. So old that the veins showed blue through the paper-thin skin and the flesh had melted into a delicate skeleton under that same covering. Beside her the nurse sat quietly. It was a waste of money hiring her to watch the old lady, but then the family had it to waste. Her patient was a pleasant change. She might be uneducated, with the faint accent of her childhood, but she was always polite. Grateful for the caring, uttering her thanks in a weakening voice.



Click here to read Lyn’s short story



Tissue Paper by R.J. Cook



It is a horrible thing to give voice to what I wish for most.

Dreams are carefully folded tissue paper,

squirrelled and saved.

Many sheets fit, closeted away,

but the weight flattens the oldest, most delicate, to cobwebs…



Click here to read R.J.’s poem



What Not To Say To A Blind Person by Beckie Horter


I experienced it again this week. Meeting a new person in a new location, they asked me if I enjoyed the video we'd just seen. I said I couldn't really see the video too well because I am legally blind. However, I liked the music. I tried to keep it light, because I could feel the questions coming.


A moment of silence followed as she sized me up. I appeared normal to her. Why was I saying this?


"How can you see me right now?" she asked.



Click here to read Beckie’s essay


Sound of Sunlight By Anna Stott



Though the silence never ends
I can hear.
I can hear:
A dove in flight
The sound of sunlight
Trees dancing without wind
Stars twinkling in the night
The flowers sweet songs
The moons soft sprite
My loves delight…


Click here to read Anna’s poem






Death by Hospice by Susan M. Silver



“Goldie won’t cry,” the principal had declared with the certainty of an experienced seer more than eight decades earlier, and that marked nobility of strength would define her always.


It was on a heat-choked summer’s day—the kind of late-June day when the hushed humidity causes the greenery to seem wavering in irrationally insistent sunshine—when the compact ambulette delivered Mom to the hospice. And even in the Sisters of Divine Mercy Home, a little Temple of Transition for the terminally ill that faced the East River, reeking of bleach and sanitizers, mixed with the fragrance of jovially funereal floral bouquets, she remained regally calm and centered.



Click here to read Susan’s short story








The Best Years of Our Lives: Shattering Glass, Shattering Disability Taboos by Denise Noe



The Best Years of Our Lives’ is a 1946 black and white motion picture rightly regarded as a classic. William Wyler directed this film from a screenplay by Robert E. Sherwood based on a novel by MacKinlay Kantor. The movie won seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Film Editing and Best Adapted Screenplay.


One actor, Harold Russell, won two Academy Awards for his performance in this film: an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor and a special honorary award “for bringing hope and courage to his fellow veterans.” By casting Russell, who had lost his hands and forearms in a military training accident, the film shattered a major cinematic taboo: he was the first physically disabled person ever cast in a major role.



Click here to read Denise’s review








Dark Arrow Down, Dome by Julie Kim Shavin



The poet sleeps as he must,
  as he cannot sleep -
I am a lone boat in darkness, he conjures,
  inhale: the wind
exhale: whistle of sails
 
sometimes rocks himself
  as though orphan, foundling
or just mishap of love
  needy mouth of night, prone,
one foot atop the other
  rock, rock on water…
 


Click here to read Julie’s Poems

(as an added bonus, there are links to video performances of these poems following the text)







Truth is a Stranger to Fiction by Sandra M. Odell



"More! More!" the Menagerie chants.


From his seat at the head of the table, Master Robinson nods for another tale. The chimera comes up on its hind legs. I sidle behind its musty bulk to refill its mug with wine. The pitcher taps against the rim of the goblet, and a birdsong of silver and bone sounds high and sweet.



Click here to read Sandra’s short story



Absurdity for Drum and Glockenspiel, Reliquary by Robert L. Smith


While I've never actually seen

the offending instrument,

I've heard it often enough:

the high, metallic stammer

of the glockenspiel, like the oddly

disturbing song of some solitary child, wafting out of the JROTC room,

accompanied by a single faltering drum…



Click here to read Robert Smith’s poems



Buttons by E. Lewy


Doug's stomach flip-flopped. The official last day of summer before he started junior year was over. Now all he had left to do was somehow manage to get to sleep.


Well, there was one more thing.


He reached out, running a hand over the buttons on his backpack. Some of them could stay--like his dorky yellow peace sign, and the second one he had gotten that said Breathe Peace with a pair of lungs on either side of the sign, because why the hell not? His fingers even passed easily over a white square with the words in purple: I don't Know You Well Enough To Dumb Myself Down For You, his Stop Whining, Start Campaigning button, and the requisite I Heart NYs, of course. But his fingers hesitated over each of his rainbow buttons.



Click here to read E. Lewy’s short fiction




If You Care to Look… by Sean J. Mahoney


It's

the people, stupid, guided past

lights

wrapped round shrubs and

along

window frames gathering

not

for Mass but a celebration in song

as

the community file down aisles

before

the words of God ever make

an

appearance in lyric…



Click here to read Sean Mahoney’s poem





Songed to Silenced by Tasha Chemel


My father and I played and replayed the scene in the Little Mermaid


in which Ariel relinquishes her voice.


"Has she lost it?" I would ask.


"Not yet," my father would say. "Shhh. Listen."


And then we'd find that exact second


where the singing would cut off-


a mercifully sterilized transition…




Click here to read Tasha Chemel’s poem






The Alphabetical Prescription for Living With A Chronic Medical Condition by Wendy Kennar



During college I worked in a public library. The first five years of my teaching career were spent teaching kindergarten. In both instances, the alphabet was a large part of each of my days. As a result, I now tend to look at the world and want to alphabetize it.


Living with an autoimmune disease is unpredictable and uncontrollable in many respects. Yet, I am a person who strives for order. So, I have written the A to Z Prescription for living with, and coping with, a chronic medical condition.



Click here to read Wendy Kennar’s creative essay





Optimum Gratitude By Keith Nunes


feel it all the way to the bottom,

let it scald like a menopausal hot flash, sober and clean and steam-burn intense, the moment is held…



Click here to read Keith Nunes’ poem





Strange Fruit by Chris Kuell


I drove by the place three times before catching a glimpse of the overgrown path, barely visible through the tangles of honeysuckle. Perhaps it was my time in the city, but I was expecting a driveway, even though the parched mud flat I was driving on could hardly qualify as a road.


I pulled off into some tall grass and parked, still a little uncertain as to why I was here. I turned and got out only a wee bit slower than normally, my protruding belly no more than a minor hindrance at this point.


From the road, the old Washington place resembled the dozen or so other abandoned homes I saw on my drive out this morning. Apparently this faraway corner of the county had missed the economic boom of the nineties. A sagging roof was fighting gravity, windows were broken, and the rickety porch didn’t look like it could hold the weight of a healthy tick hound.




Click here to read Chris Kuell’s short story





I have Painted by Margarita Tenser



I have painted

round the legs of furniture

it was so heavy, and my hands so tired

(I forgot.)

Now there is wet paint between

me and the door

through which I should have hauled this chest of drawers…




Click here to read Margarita Tenser’s poem



Decay  by Jenna-Nichole Conrad


There were hours before
the clock grew tired of routine,
hung it's hat on the doorknob, folded its arms
to lay down, fetal-like,
swept under fraying corners of the carpet…


Click here to read Jenna-Nichole Conrad’s poems


Cutting by Stacye Cline-Robinson


I stand here cutting as I dye, dyeing as I cut. My goddaughter Jade sits with her wheelchair tilted back, her head wedged between the arms of the salon sink as I circle behind her. Turning on the faucet and placing her head under the rush of warm water, rinsing Jade’s hair free of bleach, I hope she doesn’t hear us. Her mom Liz and I make small talk— bawdy talk of bodies and waking from daydreams too rough for her ears. It isn’t that she can’t understand the games people play when they no longer believe in love. The way Jade’s eyes catch light, never staying the same shade of green-flecked brown or brown-flecked green and their quick expressiveness let me know she understands too much about the aftermath of love.


Click here to read Stacye Cline-Robinson’s short story


The Crossing, Wind Gifts by Mark Cornell


You no longer want to hold my hand

perched upon a new chapter of your life,

Beaming as you make your stand

you cross the street towards the other side.

With your gold uniform and floppy blue hat

I understand it’s time to say goodbye,

I waddle behind you carrying your huge bag

below the chalk moon Summer sky…


Click here to read Mark Cornell’s poems





Sight and Singing by Emily K. Michael


I enter the large conference room, holding Kerry's elbow. High ceilings and bare floors amplify the sound of our students' voices as we find seats at the long folding tables. Most of our students are sitting at the table in front, so we choose seats behind them. For the next six hours, we will occupy cold, metal folding chairs - and mine makes an unnecessary amount of noise when I draw it away from the table. It scrapes along the floor, the sound intensified by the chair's hollow legs.
We are about to experience a presentation from one of the premier companies that produces assistive technology (AT) for blind and visually-impaired users. AT can include anything from a video magnifier that you carry in your purse to a wireless braille display that translates the text from your iPad, iPhone, or computer screen into refreshable braille.



Click here to read Emily K. Michael’s three-part essay




Medication, Game of Thrones by Sergio Ortiz


Half asleep and wrapped

in a blanket of nightmares

I pass through all the broken

windows of the world

with an appetite for cake…



Click here to read Sergio Ortiz’s poems






Who? By Lela Marie De La Garza


"Hi..." I say tentatively.
"Hi. I'm Kevin. We've met before."
I didn't remember of course.

"I'm Joan. But you probably know that if we've met before."
"I do know that.  You don't realize it, but there was a time you didn't remember your own  name."


Click here to read Lela Marie De La Garza’s short story


Trinkets by Raud Kennedy


That’ll make me happy,

Or, they’ll make me complete.

I think I want something

Or I want to be with someone,

But when I get it I want something else



Click here to read Raud Kennedy’s poem

The Happiest Place On Earth by Erika Jahneke


I’m here because my roommate says I’m not open to new things – which, of course, she made sound like the chance for untold adventures, but has really led us to waiting in a truck stop on the way to Disney with a bunch of other disabled tourists. The only new sensation I’m filled with is a sticky banquette against my crippled butt. It seemed like a good idea at the time, sliding over, to try and be daring, and most of all, diffuse some of the fear, pity, and tiny sips of revulsion I see in the eyes of the other patrons…


Click here to read Erika Jahneke’s short story



A Spider by William L. Houts


Sprawled in my favorite chair,
I found a spider striving down
my sweater's cotton roads;
uncruel, I meant to brush her
from my collar to the floor,
but a brainless finger crushed her…


Click here to read William Hout’s poem



Here and There by Wendy Kennar


There the world, and the people in it, were damaged.  Surgeries. Broken bones.  Sprained muscles.  Strokes.  Diseases.  But no one was written off.  Everyone was there to try.  Try to regain some mobility, some strength, some independence.

Here the world continued on as it always had.  Work.  Family. Dinners.  Dishes.  Laundry.  Bills.  Hugs.  Kisses.  Time-outs.  I was the hamster on the spinning wheel, and I feared my legs wouldn't keep going…


Click here to read Wendy Kennar’s essay

4 AM, Even More by B. Z. Niditch


French bread

resembling a

quarter moon

murdered

on the granite table

an hour ago…


Click here to read B. Z. Niditch’s poems



The Scofflaw by Timothy W. Allen


There sure is a lot of scar tissue in there,” the ophthalmologist said, peering through my pupils while shining the brightest light imaginable into my eyes. But he was a man of few words, and he said little else, beyond occasionally asking:

And which is better?” while rotating various diopters as I stared blankly at the barely visible Snellen Chart, projected on the wall from an unknown source. And then, about fifteen minutes into this:

Well, you’re not legally blind,” he deadpanned. I didn’t respond. This struck me as an odd remark; I had never really thought about the issue…


Click here to read Timothy Allen’s essay



Wheelin’ by Glenda Barrett


As I rode out of the store
in my red handicapped scooter
I noticed a shiny, red motorcycle
parked alongside the sidewalk…

Click here to read Glenda Barrett’s poem



The Dollhouse by Jennifer Gifford


I’m an artist. I confine myself to one simple medium, but my art is one of a kind. Working in fear and pain, much the way Picasso worked in oils, I utilize whatever tools I have around me to complete my dark masterpieces. I specialize in the macabre, emulating the dark essence of it, capturing it in all its dark, twisted beauty. Death, sweet death, is my greatest creation…


Click here to read Jennifer Gifford’s short story


The Computer Jungle, Wildflower Engine Block by Todd Hanks (toddh1964@att.net)


In the paradise of a computer jungle,

bananas and televisions hang near

a python draping a metal limb.

In a red rust river piranhas fax

themselves closer to the wading

legs of cyber water buffalo…


Click here to read Todd Hank’s poems



Control by Debbie Johnson


BEEP-BEEP, BEEP-BEEP. The alarm clock rings and I pull the covers over my head. BEEP-BEEP. After another minute, I tire of the alarm's incessant call. I crawl out of bed remembering today’s itinerary and wish I could just stay home. Taking a deep breath, I strive to remain calm and relaxed. Yet the anxiety begins…

Click here to read Debbie Johnson’s essay



Mrs. Edelman by Susan M. Silver


When it became implicit that Daddy, Daddy with the deep-sea eyes and the embracing smile, would not leave the hospital, Mrs. Edelman approached me after school, almost pressing me against the façade of metal lockers, and told me I was coming home with her.  Slightly wall-eyed with disobedient curls the color of bittersweet chocolate, Esther Edelman cut an unusual figure among the faculty.  She was the storied taskmaster of the commercial department, where aspiring secretaries learned shorthand, typing, and a smattering of business-world grooming.  But she was a study in personal abandon, from the shirttail that hung over her pleated-skirt’s waistband to her habit of hankiless sniffling and her slouchy stance.  Despite a distracting air of smug self-satisfaction, a know-it-all nurturing a stash of secrets, hers was an aura of unmatched kindness. 


Click here to read Susan M. Silver’s short story




Bargain With God by Allegra Keys 


I made a bargain on the corner of Acceptance and Wisdom
When my body was wrapped in the supple arms of youth
But my mind was plagued by the choking grip of truth

My expiration date came with much ado at the age of two
Soon thereafter the thoughts of growing old fled my mind like migrating birds
Sitting on a porch with grandkids was something for everyone but me
I’d get weaker, bones, muscles, joints wasting away

I never asked why my feet would never touch the ground
Every doctor was amazed by the fact that I continued to breathe
But everything comes with a cost stamped on the packaging…


Click here to read Allegra Keys’ poem




The Raven by Michael Lockwood 


I have depression. Not your down in the dumps one day type of thing, but a grip you by the throat for months at a time version.

Anyway, it was around 10 a.m., a bit over a year ago, when, as I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping. Well, a phone call actually. But Poe's poem, The Raven, is relevant here, as I will explain.


Click here to read Michael Lockwood’s essay





Conversation With Frida Kahlo #3 by Lori-Ann Tessier

Frida I said,
you know how important it is
and by god or goddess
shouldn't some body parts
remain sacred?

Yours was ruined by that steel rod
It entered you and came out your chest.
Mine was ruined by a steel scalpel cutting me
right in the groin.


Click here to read Lori-Ann Tessier’s poem





The Grand Hoax by Day Al-Mohamed 


The first known insurance contract is from Genoa in 1347.  And since that time, the insurance industry has grown and developed a variety of premiums, products, and processes for assessing life, and risks, and putting a value on them.  In the 21st century, an insurance company created the first online “game” to let people look at factors that impacted their longevity, and less than thirty years later, Northern River Mutual created the first cell phone application for Predictive Human Lifetime Assessment, or as it was more commonly known, the “Lifeline” test.  With only a simple questionnaire, a fun game-like interface, access to a few databases of on you, your family, your finances, medical information, genetics, and a few minutes of computations, the app would calculate your longevity.  Since ancient times, gypsies and mystics, psychics and palmists have claimed such arcane knowledge.  Now we could do it technologically; we take into account potential genetic flaws, socioeconomic concerns, and analyze lifestyles for risk; all from the palm of your hand.  Perhaps it wasn’t so different from those gypsy palm readers after all.


Click here to read Day Al-Mohamed’s short story

 



Dog Years, For Sylvia Plath by Abigail Astor

Is my life to be
like that of a dog
where every one year
equals seven?

The commercial shows
a fast forward montage
starting with puppyhood
and ending with that last arthritic step…


Click here to read Abigail Astor’s poems




Randy and the Mighty Quinn by Patti Rutka


Velvet emerald moss layered the Rim Junction trail in Evans Notch at the Maine and New Hampshire border. Golden shafts of light wound through the velvet like a ribbon. My eyes took in the beauty, but my left knee complained like the Tin Man squeaking for more oil as I slogged on. The seven and a half mile hike up Burnt Mill Brook, a tributary to the Wild River, was hard enough for me; how on earth would it be possible for the blind Randy Pierce and his dog Mighty Quinn? And yet, they were hiking the forty-eight 4000-footers in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.


Click here to read Patti Rutka's article





The Nature Look by Bruce Ario 


The bend of the willow tree is very erotic
Especially in the wind as today
I am only a substitute…


Click here to read Bruce Ario’s poem



Raspberries by Raymond Luczak 

I like picking raspberries because they taste good, and it’s a fun thing to do on a summer day. Today Mom and Dad are food shopping. Then they will bring Grandma home from the hospital. She had a car accident, and now she can’t walk anymore. I visited her almost every day, but today’s special, because she’s coming home.


Click here to read Raymond Luczak’s short story

Your Hands, Smile  By Dawnell Harrison 


My mind is starless and
As blank as a white wall.
The moon feigns white
Brightness and love.
I cannot trust it.


Click here to read Dawnell Harrison’s poems



The Statement  By Atty Rose

“For the third time, we had the keys. Emaleen, gave, us, the, keys."
I rubbed my forehead. It felt fit to split. How long could these guys keep this up?
    "That?"
The big horse-faced Detective, Hegil Mesh, pointed to the shriveled gourd thing on the table.  His head was so sunburned it look like a shiny apple.
"Smells like rat shit and cloves."
    "And you've smelled that combination when? It's a karma key," and I pointed at it too.
It did look disgusting. Black, wrinkled, and split on one side.
    "Right. And you expect us to believe that?"
 He flicked it with the tip of his pen. The key rolled over once, split side down.
"Karma Shmarma. It's shit and you know it."
   
Click here to read Atty Rose’s short story




Medicated Youth,  Lingua Epilepticus By John Davis Jr. 


Regular, but not normal:
Morning and night Phenobarbital
doses supplied by Pete’s Pharmacy, kept
in a half-hexagonal amber bottle, black-capped,
imprisoning thicker maroon-tinted liquid.

“Time for Mr. Pheeny,” my mother would chime,
as if personification would cure
the ugliness of it all.


Click here to read John Davis Junior’s poems





Splat  By Randy Peters 

The sun blazed in a bright blue cloudless sky. Birds sang, the air carried the smell of hay drying in back fields coupled with manure from the barn. Cows, impatient to get back in the pasture, mooed in the barnyard, and in the distance, Pepere circled a meadow on one of his old tractors. Sounds from its ancient skipping engine echoed off distant trees crowding in on the open edges. It was a great day to be five.

Read here to read Randy Peter’s creative non-fiction




The Bear By Roger Batchelor 


Winter slept without him for four months.
Warm outside.
He woke and moved into life again.
Forest without green greeted him, nothing moved.
The trees did not speak, the birds did not leave, silence.


Click here to read Roger Batchelor’s poem




One Wallet Too Many By Todd Hanks

The indoor public pool was busy on Saturday. The wall of glass by the check-in counter was steamed like a terrarium. Little boys did cannonballs from the sides, and a group of girls knocked a red ball back and forth. Old men exercised, walking laps in the waves.
Mouse Thompson signed in under a false name, carrying a bundle wrapped in a towel, and walked into the men’s changing room. He knew there would be no locks on the lockers; he’d been in there before. Mouse began to search methodically through the metal boxes one by one, listening for the sound of a door opening. By the time he had gone through every locker, he had stashed three wallets in his jacket pocket.
   
Click here to read Todd Hank’s short story




Water Waste  By Andrew Jarvis 


A rotten octopus no longer electric,
a mess of kelp strangling driftwood,
and shells, there must always be shells.

Sea cucumbers, seaweed, and snails,
a trilogy of neon green and woven brown
displayed as if offered to
some sea god.


Click here to read Andrew Jarvis’s poem



Snowy Memory  By Nancy Scott

I don't know precisely what year it was.  My memory does not recall chronology.  I would never have written anything resembling memoir had I needed a timeline.
It was probably around 1990.  I had a second chance to hear Hayden Carruth in person.  He was the first poet with books (plural) published that I'd ever heard read poetry.  Something about that New England-accented voice began a turn in me.  I wanted to do what he did.  I wanted people to sit through my holding them hostage with words.  I wanted the magic to rub off on me.
But there was a snowstorm. 

Click here to read Nancy Scott’s essay




Long-Ago Lover  By Susan M. Silver 

December-decorated evening,
Streets that revel in the gaudy.
Beyond, a sacred orchid-sunset
Slips into the horizon’s envelope,
And a tale of winternight begins.


Click here to read Susan Silver’s poem


Support the Fight: A Review of Something on our Minds  By Liz Whiteacre

When We Write for the Fight, an online self-help group connecting people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), put out a call for writers to contribute to an anthology project whose proceeds would benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, many responded. The project produced Something on our Minds, which is edited by Tracy A. Todd and Sean J. Mahoney.
The anthology is divided into three sections: poetry, personal reflection, and short stories. Each piece presents a unique response to life with MS and a wide range of emotions from anger to fear to gratitude to joy. The complexity of emotions coupled with the many different ways MS can affect peoples’ lives gives readers a glimpse of day-to-day life as the writers’ bodies and spirits evolve with this disease.
 
Click here to read Liz Whiteacre’s book review



Twister by Abby Ridderhoff

You were a twister
Uprooting the sanity
Of a pristine little girl

 You ripped the daisies

 From her hair, and gave
Her instead a mirror…


Click here to read Abby Ridderhoff’s poem



I’ll Be Looking At the Moon by Susan M. Silver 

Just when it was that I started feeling dead, I don’t know.  My sense of time has been  altered by the Illness.  But the confines of this familiar room, an irregular box which constitutes my whole apartment and my only sanctuary, are starting to take on the colorations of a sort of peaceful death chamber, or a maybe a way station to another level, perhaps because of how I feel inside it.


Click here to read Susan Silver’s short story




Routine, Dentist Visit, I Fly Into Your Indifference by Akua Lezli Hope


I sleep to wake and take my waking slow
I fear my fate in what is no longer there
I get nowhere that I used to go

We think we know what we don’t know
I pray daily to be cured, I cry to rise from here
I sleep to wake and take my waking slow


Click here to read Akua Lezli Hope’s poems




Father’s Last Breath by Pearl Stevens

My father had been dying for months. His mind, scuttled by advanced Alzheimer’s, had more left to it than his starved body.  At times I feared I would also die of Alzheimer’s, because it ran in the family, and because I thought my epilepsy might make me more prone to that plundering of mind. Today or tomorrow would be the day, his last day, hospice assured me over the phone after a week of vigil. So, thirteen hundred miles distant, wheeling above an expansive early green spring, I flew from Maine to the compressed snows of a Wisconsin clinging to winter. Perhaps I could lay hold to something no child should have to touch upon – the moment at which one’s parent dies.

Click here to read Pearl Stevens’ memoir piece



No Lie by C. R. Reardon

Go ahead, show off your lexicon
With words like “lexicon”.  Tell her
How King Kong ain’t got shit on you; that will
Make her weepy, all touchy-feely.  Take her
To your room, go boom boom or do what you do,
And say tutaloo.  Because you can tell by
The hope in her voice when she says ‘miracle’


Click here to read C. R. Reardon’s poem



Film, Sex, and the Single Cripple by Erika Jahneke

There has never been a disability-friendly American Pie, much less an accessible Annie Hall. I know on the long march to equality, we crips have bigger problems than being under-represented in sex comedies. Being left out of the actual mating dance of life is far more serious, but beyond the scope of this article.  I think the fact that there hasn't been a sex comedy involving crips yet says something about our place in society as people the world does not think about unless they are forced to.  Any thoughts about disabled life are generally either blurted by vulgar grandmas in comedies, or left in the Sensitive Indie Drama section where the renters are either people like me, starved for something we can halfway relate to, or other kinds of artistic hipsters who are proud of how much of looking at us they can "stand".

Click here to read Erika Jahneke’s movie reviews





Life’s Friends, Differences by Carol Mackey 

You have walked in my shoes,
the festering blister,
the too tight arch.

Nothing is solid
and space is a fog.


Click here to read Carol Mackey’s poems




The Spinebill by Mark Cornell

The spinebill’s have returned; they always do this time of year. Another summer’s about to die, and I’m not sad in the least. The trilling is the first thing you notice about the bird. It sounds like a mini machine gun.

I noticed the spinebill during the first autumn I was home looking after my son, Tim. When I took three years off on family leave, I discovered important things I’d overlooked when I worked full time.  For instance, signs of when the seasons are changing. This tiny bird’s arrival is one of the first indications that autumn is on her way and we’re near the equinox, a time our ancestors celebrated with great gusto.

Click here to read Mark Cornell’s short story




Choosing Between the Long Jump and the Short drop by Cody Vander Clute

every morning the clouds rise
the sun too behind
the blackout curtain
but it is
crawling grey
mist that gets me up
and looking
for the batteries
for my ears

Click here to read Cody Vander Clute’s poem





My Life in Books by Penny Gotch

“Books”

It’s a beautiful word, isn’t it? Five letters, one syllable, and a billion possibilities.

I love books. I was weaned on them. I cut my teeth on cloth and board ones at eighteen months, sitting in my crib in the peaceful morning hours before my mum woke up, turning the pages to look at the pictures because the words were beyond my reach.

Now I devour books, page after page, sentence after sentence, word after word.


Click here to read Penny Gotch’s essay 


On The Healing Circuit by Rick Blum 



We’re a motley mélange of middle-aged mortals gathered together
on a sunny fall afternoon in a dimly lit suburban hotel ballroom,
which has never been used for a ball – or a dance of any kind for that matter.

Nationally renowned health experts are here to advise us how to
ameliorate our various physical and mental challenges…


Click here to read Rick Blum’s poem




The Feminist Crip-tique by Erika Jahneke

Unlike Harilyn Rousso, I never had a choice whether to claim and name my cerebral palsy. It’s been twined around my life for over thirty years like a plant around a trellis. (I haven’t decided which is the plant and which is the trellis—maybe that will take another thirty-something years) My level of mobility impairment, though far from the most severe with this kind of disability, has always made the thing that is “wrong” with me front-and-center, in-your-face obvious. I guess like many people in my situation, I assumed both rightly and wrongly, that mobility meant freedom, that any standing position, no matter how shaky, was better than facing life from a chair.


Click here to read Erika Jahneke’s book review


 

Warehouse Hangman by Tina Anton 

Pigeon feathers lead the way

Between dusty crates.

Motes in sunlight sway

Through cracked panes.



Click here to read Tina Anton’s poem




Half A Dream by Rob Bermingham 


Chrissy spun at the foot of the bed with her left hand in the air. She was dancing. The room was dark, and only some of the moonlight seeped in through the plastic shutters.

"What are you doing?" Michael said.

She spun faster, her hand flinging around as if she were a Kuchipudi dancer in India. Michael watched her for a moment and smiled. She was a child. A bird. One of those flailing green air men in a used car lot.


Click here to read Rob Bermingham’s short story



Decomposition by Milena Nast

it grew out of my center

like a catching virus for trees

sprouts sent out tiny shoots of feeling

tendrils…


Click here to read Milena Nast’s poem




The Disabled Underground Revolution by Afal Awen

Being disabled or ill is not what really hurts.

It is the struggle for life that breaks our will to live.

But live we must. We must not internalize our oppressors who say we have no worth because we don't have a paying job. Who say we are a burden on our families and friends. Who say it is our fault we are not well. Who say we deserve this due to karma. Who say we could be better if we just tried harder.


Click here to read Afal Awen’s essay






Ten Days Later, I Tell Dad I’m Injured; Alone In The Apartment by Liz Whiteacre 


Dad fights with me when he arrives. At least,
as much as he can fight a daughter sleepy
from Hydrocodone and Valium, propped by pillows,
and bound by Ace bandages and Velcro
around the torso. His compassion keeps him
pulling punches. He wrestles with my logic…



Click here to read Liz Whiteacre’s poems






Disability Leadership by Robin Wyatt Dunn 


We are accustomed to seeing in particular ways.  An “I’m fine” follows a “How are you?” and if someone responds instead with “the sky sure is green today” we’re forced to pause, to consider this slightly unusual event.  When we see a disabled person, someone whose behavior or appearance is remarkably different, who doesn’t fit into our established mental categories of “ordinary person,” many feel disoriented and afraid.

Leadership in the disability community stems first from transforming whenever possible the limitations of disabilities into strengths.  If you can see what makes you different as an advantage rather than as hardship, you will feel more confident, and this confidence can inspire others.


Click here to read Robin Wyatt Dunn’s essay




My World… By Carol Mackey 

The tips of my fingers find things
in tufted rugs and on wear roughened floors,
or under low chairs.

My world has spaces like fog,
distance diminishes
and loses its place.


Click here to read Carol Mackey’s poem






A Touch of Madness by Mark Cornell

The wail of the horn and slam of the brake took forever, but lasted maybe thirty seconds. People raised their heads and yanked off their earpieces to stare out the window. Our train screeched to a sudden halt in the winter darkness out in the middle of nowhere. Judging by the chatter and gasps, the passengers knew what had just happened. The driver climbed down the cabin steps and searched the tracks below our carriage with his torch.

    “He’s looking on the wrong side.”

A neatly bearded, suited passenger standing next to the door opposite me held his hands over his eyes as he stared into blackness below him.

“You probably don’t want to look down there,” he told us, then nodded over his shoulder. 


Click here to read Mark Cornell’s short story

Withdrawal by Ani Keaten

My limbs heavy like magnets
attracted to the earth’s core
My arms like granite—
My back, a twig,
trembles.
I know each rib intimately
Its size, shape and placement

Click here to read Ani Keaten’s poem

 
Tourette by A.K. Duvall 

I know they first found you in France, in days when asylums were warehouses, narcotics were medicines, and quacks created concoctions to cure the ill. Lead into gold, inspired by tales of Midas and men, mediocre medicine made by surgeons who sought money. And like mice, they made feasts of open corpses during surgery, and broke their bread with bile, to tinker with the innards of organs they knew little about, like modern children dissecting cats killed for the classroom.

Click here to read A.K. Duvall’s essay


Again By Jennifer Ruth Jackson 

Your touch stark, electric
A million bells and whistles
Strong hands caressing me
Defibrillator paddles bouncing
My body to life

Click here to read Jennifer Ruth Jackson’s poem


One More Needle In The Haystack By W. R. Hilary

You keep your eyes on the tarmac. You must always be silent. You must never cry. You must be brave when they catch you and pull both of your legs so that the sharp branch cuts through the black fabric of your uniform and reddens the flesh of your thighs. You mustn't shriek then and you should never blush. Keep your head down. Write neat sentences in your school book and pay attention. For God’s sake don’t talk. Don’t fight. Don’t get in trouble. Don’t get sent outside. Don't get noticed.

Click here to read W.R. Hilary’s short story


3 Tankas by Sergio Ortiz 

Benghazi at dawn

recalling

a peaceful dream

the autumn wind moans

through a crack in the window


Click here to read Sergio Ortiz’s poems



My Hair Dresser Stole My Mojo By Misti Shupe 

The whisk of the scissors drops chunks of hair to the floor. My mind races for a possible do-over. Can you glue hair back on? I can’t look at myself in the mirror or meet Melissa’s eyes. I don’t want her to see my regret.


Click here to read Misti Shupe’s creative non-fiction piece



Elegy for James Eagan Holmes By Jordan Jamison 

Look at you, Television Monkey, with your Vicodin jive and orange hair, shocking as Bukowski is shocking-violence is cool, fast, and mildly tragic; Less than two weeks of fame-one day for each soul-they are calling you Bozo in the bars as they eat their peanuts and pretzels.


Click here to read Jordan Jamison’s poem


The Jungle by William Ward 

“Any chance I could jump ahead and pay for these smokes real fast?”

The guy in front of me had a cartful of groceries and I thought, “just one pack of cigarettes — he won’t mind.”

But when he said, “not in this checkout line,” I blinked at his unsmiling face and almost said, “you prick,” but I heard a few jungle noises and thought, “uh-oh, not good.”

I knew where that could take us.


Click here to read William Ward’s flash fiction



Travels of Lip Balm by Shawn Jacobson

The drier door opens and I fall out
after traveling the drum.
Unopened, my essence stays with me
instead of covering clothes with which I journey.
He picks me up, his daughter will want this.
He returns to folding clothes.


Click here to read Shawn Jacobson’s poem
 




Into A Memory By Robert Kingett

When I was little, I did not wander as a cloud. I floated on one. I have to admit, when the assignment was given to us to write about a poem, I did not think I would find one that would capture my interest or memory. For days, my ears would burn the table of contents as my fingers struck down page numbers in a hopeless search to find something that I could connect with, for something that I could write about and have it be genuine. I was lost and my hopes for finding a poem that would hold my interest long enough to allow me to write about it seemed an impossible reach. I was a bibliophile at heart, but I did not like writing about poetry. I enjoyed reading it, but writing about it was a different kind of circle of hell.


Click here to read Robert Kingett’s essay


Peace Protest by Lizz Schumer  

On the 20th anniversary of my grandfather’s death from brain cancer, I lay in my room at George Washington University Teaching Hospital, waiting for the results of the MRI that would tell me whether my fall two days before had been caused by the same disease. And as I stared at the ceiling, one refrain repeated itself beneath the numbing fantanyl static.

Did I do this?

Click here to read this essay


Oz, On Kites, Lanterns by Jenna-Nicole Conrad

Kabuki-style reflections,
As only a poet can,
Creased skin like bowing water
Bracken dodging curled sunlight.

Click here to read these poems


Ribs by Emily Glossner Johnson  

You see that fellow over there? That man enjoying a plate of ribs? He's a blind man. You see that he's wearing dark glasses and has one of those skinny white canes, those walking sticks that blind people use.

You don't have to call him visually impaired. He'll tell you not to. Why? Because he's blind, he'll say, as if you're an idiot for asking, though he isn't a rude man, just a man tired of having to explain.

Click here to read this short story


Reading Our History In Verse: Book review by Erika Jahneke

People with disabilities have probably always, to the extent that they were able, attempted to share their stories. Since I have read Beauty Is A Verb:the New Poetry of Disability, I’ve started to think that there is a cave painting in Lascaux of some caveman fighting it out with a saber-toothed tiger, then hobbling away. Maybe I’ve started to hope that there is.

     

Before I read this book, I had the general misconception that disability history was just a long series of progressively darker ages, followed by a sudden explosion in the late sixties that finished with the IDEA and the other reforms of the early seventies, followed by the Reagan social service cutbacks which left the disability movement in an uneasy coma lasting until the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990.

Click here to read this book review



Walking Along by Rochelle Willis

Walking along the edge.

Gazing at possibilities.

Slowly taking these steps,

I sway to find my footing.

Indefinite, but with stride,

and seeking affirmation,

I am altogether captured

by the reverent form unfolding.

Click here to read this poem



Through Rose Colored Lenses  by Jeff Kozzi

I can get hard again.  You don’t know all the joy that brings me after so long.  Night after night now, I have lain in bed and played away.  Why does a man climb a mountain?  Because he can.

 

Understand my former inability before you judge me for partaking in America’s greatest private past time.  If you’ve had any period of not being able to be able, then you understand.  If you’ve been one who has never had a prolonged lapse, you won’t understand.  If you have had a prolonged lapse and have been too macho to admit it, then you’re one of the ones judging me to overcompensate for your own inadequacies.

Click here to read this short story


Post-Op Blues by Paris

The adage goes, “There are no atheists in foxholes.” But there was a sly fox in this hole and he’s an atheist. I felt fear for my life and knew that only the miracles of modern science could save me.

The final word from the oncologist was that chondrosarcoma, a ligament cancer, had swollen my ankle with a malignant tumor. It was probably the site of origin and was untreatable except by amputation. The surgeons at Stanford would operate to save my life with decent odds for success. I’d have to live without a leg and be prepared for the outside chance that cancer or the operation could kill me before I ever awoke or left the hospital.

Click here to read this essay


Flowers For Libby by Nancy Scott  

Glass is fragile and heavy,
but the colors caught forever
in paper that looks like silk
in a vase of cardboard
are fun to see
next to the TV
she no longer watches.

Click here to read this poem


Jealous of the Freedom of the Able Bodied by Afal Awen

Jealousy and I made friends when I was about 19 years old. In NYC where everyone is famous and creating history nonstop, I decided that instead of being jealous of the elders in the tribe, I’d just be INSPIRED.

I hate competition. It’s one reason I hate grades. I got straight As and others felt bad. I hate sports for that reason too. Feminism at an early age taught me about how society sets women up to compete for male attention, so I avoided that. I didn’t want THAT kind of male attention anyway, the superficial kind.  I grew up with the notion that if it is not win-win, if there are losers, it will never work.

Click here to read this essay




Strays by Raud Kennedy

It was a good day to fleece treats off the customers coming out of the 7-11. The

hot weather brought them in for beer and chips, and I sat outside pretending to be

someone’s pet. Sitting calmly, looking like I was waiting for my master to return from

inside the store with a six-pack for him and a bone for me. Pet dogs were safe to feed.

Moms didn’t have to worry about their kids trying to talk them into bringing home the

stray. Don’t feed the stray, they’d say, he’ll follow us home. I’d heard that one a lot. So

I put on my act of belonging to someone and it worked for me.

Click here to read this story


Memory Loss, Winter Relics, Woeful Wheelchair by Amit Parmessur

His index finger drawing on the blanket

like a silly schoolboy,

he soon detects ants along the wall and

turns into a traffic warden angry at

transgressing vehicles.

His hair scattered in voluntary neglect,

bitter tears poised to explore his cheeks,

he soon turns into a capricious tyrant

who suddenly remembers too many

swear words like ax wound.

Click here to read these poems



Our Secret Language by Stephanie Wilson

She squeezes my hand, her fingers lightly damp from sweat. I squeeze back in reply,

my hands cold and chapped. I think the way our hands physically react to stress tells

a lot about us. As we sit in the overly white room, we ignore the discarded bag and

wrappers of the Big Macs we just ingested as the nameless doctor with ridiculously

wavy dark hair walks in. I swallow thickly as he sits down on the leather-covered stool.

I squeeze her hand and she squeezes back.

Five hours ago I woke up on the floor of my 8th grade algebra classroom, with the

school principal leaning over me asking if I remembered what I had for breakfast. From

the look on the doctor’s face – solemn eyes poorly hidden by a wanna-be-carefree smile

– I am about to find out why the principal had asked such an inane question.

Click here to read this memoir piece


Hunger Strike, Black Marks on a Driveway: Daddy’s Home By K. K. Philan

Darkness swims viridian

this time of year. Hollow,

and you taught me nothing

except how to hold nothing.

All gets ripped away

with harvest as tender leaves are plucked

regardless of time invested.

Click here to read these poems


Sometimes Love is Enough: Book review by Erika Jahneke

Everett and Reid are young-adult men finding love in the late ‘70s. In addition to the

drama surrounding coming out for the first time, the thrill of first sex is rendered in

sometimes exquisite, but always explicit detail (Readers of delicate sensibilities should

be prepared even though it never strikes me as exploitative or gratuitous). There is a

class divide between Reid the scholarship student and Everett the casual preppie.

There are many books that cover similar ground, such as Armistead Maupin’s Tales of

The City series, although Maupin’s work has more wackiness woven throughout. This

book is more touching and heartfelt, though the guys’ taste for getting caught having

sex is often used for comic effect.

Click here to read this review


Sunset Bluesman by Todd Hanks

A bloody sunset bluesman,
you're down and out, with
a sound of punk and fifties grit.

At times crazy or lazy, you're
a soft spoken loser.

Your strings scream like
a hawk that an arrow hit.

Click here to read this poem

Renovations by Anne Chiapetta

“Mommy, it’s the guy who made our kitchen!” exclaimed Cara, running over to

greet Walt.

I smiled. Cara wasn’t good at remembering names, but she never forgot a face.

After a quick hug and kiss, he released himself from Cara’s seven-year old enthusiasm

and introduced Donna, his fiancée.

“Hey, Amy," he said, clasping my hands and kissing my cheek, “How’s it going?”

“Good.” I said, reminded that he was a grown-up now, a man, not the insecure,

seventeen year-old I dated all those years ago.

Heck, I was thirty-eight and he was thirty-two; the years had left us both with a bit

more flesh and experience.

Click here to read this story


The Dove By Todd Hanks

The salt spray of her kiss stung his ocean and

wind-burned lips softly, like first hunger pains of a fast.

How long did that summer day's kiss last?

The seconds and centuries of the ocean were wrapped

like wet wind around him. That day white sails scissored

waves like skirting glances.

Click here to read this poem



Decision At World’s End by L.A. Christensen

I jam the interplanetary comm link, belatedly realizing the equipment's upgrade means no
button and my finger slips along the touch screen.

“Hello, Mr. Vanhaeker. Please hold while we connect you”.

The ground rumbles beneath me and I grasp the paneling on either side to stay upright, gritting
my teeth against my own pitted anger.

“Thank you.”

There is a brief swatch of music, something jazzy with an off-worldly descant I haven’t
heard before. Have trends changed so much since I left? Then I hear the blip and silence, an
inhalation. I don't give him time to speak.

“We screwed it up.”

“What do you mean?”

“Or rather, ITC screwed up. Screwed the entire planet.”

The ground rocks beneath my feet. My heart lurches into my throat then plummets to my gut.

“You hear that?”

Click here
to read this short story

A Farewell to Disneyland, This Is the Real World by Mel C. Thompson

When you’re from Orange County
poverty is the one unforgivable sin.

Friends and family drift away
when an illness becomes chronic.

Insanity can be forgiven
so long as you’ve got a trust fund.

Click here
to read these poems


Dress For Success by Nancy Scott

“You don't dress like a poet,” Barbara advised.

“Poets dress like they can't think about mundane things like fashion. Or maybe poets want to
draw attention to themselves. Or they want audiences to think they have odd artistic flair. You
just dress like a normal person.”

I heard the truth of Barbara's observation. I didn't say that since matching colors was not a
high-level skill in my repertoire and I had no fashion sense, I opted for cautious. That, even to
me, didn't sound poet-like. Poets should sound fearless, or at least creative. Maybe they should
look that way too?

Click here
to read this essay

A Great Place for a Seizure: The Hospital By Terry Tracy

Her nose twitched at the smell of disinfectant.

“Mischa, it’s Dad. Mom is here too. Don’t try to get up. The doctors want you to stay here for
a while. You…you had two seizures today.”

Seizures?

Her head felt like it had exploded. It had never hurt like this before. She wondered whether
it had grown larger just to accommodate that amount of pain. When she looked around
questions ran through her head. How did I get into this hospital gown? Where are my clothes?
Where are my shoes? Why is there blood on the hospital gown? Where am I bleeding from?
She tried to lift herself up.
“Why can’t I get up?,” She tried again.

“Why can’t I get up?!”

Click here
to read this novel excerpt



Sharp, Shallow Six, Age 10: Sorting the Dead by Brock Marie Moore

the fishing lures have lured

his daughter again.

she floats down the aisles, trailing

small hands in the bins of rubber worms,

her head a damp wisp of dandelion

caught in an unfelt breeze.

Click here
to Read these poems


The Cripfic Manifesto by Maija Haavisto

When chronic illnesses and disabilities are featured in fiction, it usually follows a certain
formula. A main character or his/her family member has cancer or depression, perhaps another
type of mental illness, and generally dies of it or recovers. From the perspective of drama,
being "chronic" is stagnant and problematic. Other disabilities are usually relegated to side
characters, just like disabled people are expected to assume less visible roles in the society.
In some novels crips may be bitter villains, but more often they are just there to be damn
inspiring.

I've been guilty of one of those crimes myself. In a novel manuscript I wrote in 2008 the main
character, at one point of her life, works as a care giver for two disabled young women, one
with severe CFS/ME and one with MELAS, a mitochondrial disease. She eventually quits when
she can't cope with the brutal reality of these illnesses and is worried the women are going to
die.

Click here
to read this essay



On Something Stable By Jude Conlee

I told myself I was happy,

as I walked across the bridge,

making very sure

to keep my hand

on the rail.

I was happy, yes.

Happy to think of nothing

and look down into the water

and see nothing

but my own empty face

looking up as a reflection.

Click here
to read this poem


Making My Own Acquaintance by Raud Kennedy




I used to smoke, crave it, enjoy it.

Now it’s something people do

who are ambivalent about life,

not sure if they want to live or die.

I used to drink a lot.

It was the high and low of my day…



Click here to read this poem



Cherrypoppers, Inc. by Erika Jahneke

I’m calm until I hear the warm Midwestern voice on the line, the accent somewhere between my dad’s and Joan Cusack’s.

“Cherrypoppers, how may we help you today,?” ‘Joan’s’ voice says, and suddenly I feel like a middle-school kid about to hold hands for the first time. Who’d that been with?
Somehow, it was a relief that I didn’t know.

Click Here to read this short story




Your River by Achilleas Michailides  



The waves uplift me
Into the Light I soar
Rotating and dissolving
See the tendrils of oblivion claiming me
When I die, baby, I want to become your breath

Click here to read this poem









Event of the Century by Bridgit Kuenning-Pollpeter



The winter wind whips my long hair about me as I tap my long white cane against the brick wall of Fuddrucker’s, searching for the door.  My friends do the same with their canes.  Grease filters through the chill air; it is the unmistakable odor of a burger joint.  We’re cold and hungry.  Finding the door, we scurry inside.  We’re seven friends out on a Saturday having a good time—we all happen to be blind.


Click here to read this creative non-fiction piece








Aphasia, Public Execution, These Days by Jimmy Burns  




Left side deficit
tyranny of nerves and flesh,
          attends
garage sales, flea markets,
        church bazaars,
junk...junk...junk...
seek wheelchairs
to buy on the cheap
{rob mobility of its parts}
claim art works of
                            blues
engage conversation with…


Click here to read these poems






Tiger Tiger by Ashley Dean




It is night and she unzips her skin at the seam over her spine, spilling out muscle and bone and blood. It is night and she unfolds from the body she wears during the day and goes walking.


Click here to read this flash fiction story








God’s Gift to Me by Anthony D. Lafond


My wheelchair is a part of me.
When he moves, it is like a tank under my control.

My wheelchair has a chair like a portable bed.
His wheels are round like a balloon.
And his motor moves me as fast as a 10-speed bike.


Click here to read this poem





Too Wonderfully Strange by Judith Krum  

 



And for this aged priest to be asked to help.  That was just extraordinary.  He thought of the Christmas Child, vulnerable and tiny, dependent, trusting.  And trust was what it was all about.  Trust in his own ability to give care, to maintain a calm exterior, to not weep.  Trust in his willingness to be vulnerable himself.  He wasn't wearing his clericals - no collar or stole or chasuble to mask his fear.  Just his skin and his casual jeans.


Click here to read this creative non-fiction piece







Upon Waking in Five Center By Elisa Karbin  



Oh sweet girl, what I wouldn’t give
 to spread out my madness
like a map before you, to take

your small hand and guide it down
the divergent paths of blackness
and light…



Click here to read this poem




Do People With Disabilities Sometimes Wear Orange?


On Sunday, November 27 2011, Mike Reynolds, the web master for Ability Maine, ROSC and Breath and Shadow, was arrested at Governor Lepage's mansion in Augusta, Maine. Reynolds was participating in the Occupy Maine protest, as a part of the now nationwide Occupy Wall Street movement. After his brief incarceration, Reynolds agreed to talk with us.


Click here to read this interview

Fall 2011


Volume 8, Number 4


Baggage by Mike Wood


Neatness is a goal

Baggage, like bones,

Must be stacked in a bin so

To conserve space, in hopes of

A full flight.


Click here to read this poem



Hello Goodbye by Mark Cornell


Tim could do a whole range of brum, brum sounds long before he learnt how to talk. He loved anything to do with engines.


Once when he was playing with his Matchbox Cars on the floor, our friend Margaret exclaimed, “Oh listen to him, he’s even changing gears.”


Tim heard an engine down the street while I was reading to him. After his last story we decided to go out and investigate.


I reckon it could be a big lawn mower or a digger. What do you reckon mate?”


I ambled down the street holding his hand. Tim nursed his furry possum puppet to his chest. Walking slow was one of the first lessons my son had taught me now I was no longer part of the rat race.



Click here to read this story




Everything Is Just As I Left It, After Brain Surgery By Cindy Lamb


lesson plans in careful cursive

papers organized by class

pens and pencils upright

in a shining cup

textbooks arranged just so

desks straightened into neat rows

Christmas decorations packed away

for next year



Click here to read these poems





The Productivity Fallacy by Michael Callahan


When Congress passed the sub-minimum wage components of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 [Section 14 (c)], it is clear the intention was to assure that workers who were not able to meet employer productivity standards, because of the impact of disability on work performance, would not be excluded from earning a wage. Unfortunately, the consequences of this well-intended legislation have been more negative than positive in the 71 years since its passage. From its onset, the provision was based on an outmoded concept that the FLSA sought to replace - reliance on an absolute connection between pay and productivity. In the years prior to the FLSA,




employers were free to connect pay and productivity in a way that too often placed productivity targets outside the reach of even the most ardent efforts by workers.



Click here to read this essay


August Sunset on City Glass, Casualties Before Dawn By Charles Thielman


Brake squeals fly like ingots

through this city’s enzyme weave,

revolving door catching a sun glint.

The white-haired man in a dark suit turns

from tending bloodshot treaties in a bar mirror

and joins in, praising what light there is.



Click here to read these poems

Hot Cross Buns By David C. Kopaska-Merkel


I had developed a Saturday morning habit of stopping by the bakery on my way home from my run.  The Three Boatman Bakery, despite its odd name, was not owned by a retired sailor.  I never did hear the story behind the name.  Anyway, I'd pick up a couple of hot cross buns and by the time I got home with them, Alma would have made tea.  We couldn't afford a house with a garden, but we had some potted plants in front of a big living-room window, and we'd have breakfast there.
One Saturday when I got to TB2, it was closed.  It looked like Harold Baker had not even been in that morning.


Click here to read this short story


Ode To My Guitar by William W. Harris


Orgasms should be this pure. Your

your soft maple neck, holding the same

fingers that hold you. The way light,

shimmers off your glittering body


Click here to read this poem

Volume 8, Number 3



 A Time of Great Pleasure By David C. Kopaska-Merkel


A flexing of the Worldskin, and Bird flies, Calling. It is a time of joy, for strangers have landed on Mechaieh. A silver egg resembling the spawn of Frog drifted gently to the ground near Pool. Out of it hatch five beings of the same color and reflectivity, though the egg is not broken. The hatchlings proceed to water's edge. Frog greets them, but the strangers do not answer. Dipping one of its upper limbs into the water, one of the creatures drinks with a mouth at its waist.



Click here to read this flash fiction piece





Forgotten Fault Lines by Roger Wayne Eberle


Two Tuesdays have passed
since our grim anniversary, and now
it is hump day again, and you
still swear the glass
is half empty, and I keep pouring.
Like the monsoon,
I won't quit.

Click here to read this poem







Pass the Word by Glenda Beall



I was extremely pleased when, upon making telephone reservations at the Comfort Inn in Asheville, NC, I was told by the reservation clerk, "We don't use fragrances in our rooms. We don't use air fresheners or anything with a strong smell."

 I could hardly believe my ears, and wondered if that was indeed true. When I arrived at the Comfort Inn, which is clean and nicely appointed, I made my usual "smell test." How refreshing to enter a motel room and not feel my bronchial tubes closing. In fact, I breathed deeply to see if I would have any respiratory problems from polluted indoor air. I did not. I complimented the motel. I always write a letter to companies when I find a place that is mindful of the air we breathe and the health of their clients.

Click here to read this essay







No Bird Song By Lachlan Walter



I wake suddenly; sweat pouring off me and soaking the mattress. My eyes shoot open and see nothing but the dark of the middle of the night. I reach across the bed. The other half lies empty.

The alarm clock ticks away on the bedside table beside me and I count the seconds as they pass. Outside the window, the wind blows hard.

The door opens slowly, hinges creaking loud in the quiet. Something stands there: a silhouette, the hallway light framing it from behind. It’s somehow familiar… It runs one hand through its long curly hair. Although I can’t see its face, I know that it’s watching me.


Click here to read this short story



Jazz Soul by Dorothy Baker


You sit at the portal between jazz and my heart


No drama here


Only clean sound


Telling the truth playfully, fearlessly


Not afraid to be the “bad” guy


Like you



Click here to read this poem







Sleepwalker by Carla Rene’



"You want me to use what?"  My voice came out as a quack.

The physician stared at me.  "You heard me, Missy."

"But why?  Lots of people lose use of their legs all the time, it certainly doesn't mean they need a walker."


I was getting good at that high-pitched, nasal whine.  I'd used it on my mother for years.

"C'mon, let's see you try it.  You're not going home until you walk from here to the wall."

“Hmmn. I wonder which medical journal that little test was in?” 


I moved to the edge of my bed in slow motion, hoping he'd simply lose interest and go away.  But it didn't happen; he just flapped at me to move quicker.  So I upped the degree of difficulty by putting a scowl on my face--just to prove how much I detested this.


Click here to read this humorous piece



Just Passing Through by Mary Elizabeth Gillilan


At the crest of Scenic Drive, a brick and clapboard house sat on a knoll. Dandelions and crab grass overpowered the rows of strawberries that made up the front yard.   Morning glories strangled anything in their path. The house overlooked the Yakima Valley; it was Mama’s dream house, but Mama’s dream clearly was not the garden.   It looked as if the only gardener had been God, who after throwing the seeds out had gone onto shape the valley and dry, mud foothills of this eastern Washington town.   That is if you believed in God.   I had a problem believing in God. I was fourteen.   The year was 1964, and I was just beginning the eighth grade.


Click here to read this creative non-fiction piece


The Return By Lorcan Black


I have been silent
since you left- and shall remain so as though all sound
swept from the room with your absence.
I wait and count the hours,
still, voiceless and patient
as a stone.

Click here to read this poem


Volume 8 Number 2

When I Was Alive by Erica Ratti

Click here to read this poem

You Can Never Be Too Thin… Or Too Blond by Alison Leavens


“You look so HOT!” Ross emails to me.  “I can’t wait to see you, and tell you all about my HAI workshop.  I feel so open from it, and I can’t wait to tell you all my feelings and to hear everything that you think and feel,” he gushes.

I’ve met Ross twice, at billiards parties that I organized.  I sense, as women do, by the second party, that he is infatuated with me.  He hovers next to me before I make each shot, helping me with the placement of my cue stick.  He rushes to help me put on my jacket. His hand touches my back as we leave the pool hall.

Click here to read this creative non-fiction piece


Closet by Melissa Aldridge

I just want to sleep
Sleep until it has all gone away

When the day has not ended and night is warm
That place inside that is safe from looks and sound

That one place that used to be the only place
Inside deep tucked away in the back of the closet…

Click here to read this poem



Riding Miss Daisy by William Ward


Bikester popped the clutch, downshifting round the switchback u-curve in a fishtail skid that nearly swung Darla off Miss Daisy into a spinney of scrub oak and cat’s claw. Darla leaned into him, her fear spooning him, her breasts pressing into his back, her arms squeezing his middle. Bikester felt her fear vibrate his skin. The electricity lit him up.

Click here to read this story



The Troubadour's Song and The Lady's Song By Kerry Elizabeth Thompson
 

From the South the Summer brings a star
That sings within my soul, blithe as a bird,
Lifting the light of her loveliness through the dark
That lay unknown and heavy on my heart;
Until her smile awoke the driving thirst
To find a haven in her love's deep harbor.

Click here to read these sestinas


The Parting… by Louis Bertrand Shalako


All good things must come to an end.


Fuego lay in the entrance to the cave all morning long. Soaking up the wan, late-summer sunshine, should have brought contentment and a sense of well-being. His belly was full, having sated his hunger on a fat buck three days before. Fuego had nibbled on a few choice greens to aid in digestion, as was his habit these many years. The aches and pains were mostly gone.

Sooner or later they would flare up, so he should have been enjoying the sloth, the ease, the sheer luxury of not having to work for his living. But it was no good.


Click here to read this short story

Body Forlorn and Pill by Pill by Ariel Johnson


When I look in the mirror, she looks back;

I cringe and turn away.

When I sing in the shower, her voice rings loud;

So now, quiet I stay.


Click here to read these poems



Timeless by Maija Haavisto


It still feels weird to wake up with no external cues. I remember the sound of the alarm clock I had in college that my roommate said sounded like a fire alarm, just like I remember the nagging reminders that popped on my screen from Outlook and my fake Rolex watch that I used to set five minutes ahead so that I would never be late. I was proud of the fact I was never late. We were ruled by our clocks and schedules. We didn't know any other way.

Click here to read this short story



ADA, the beautiful! By Pinalben "Pinky" Patel

A social worker in my town asked me to write a speech about the benefits of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to present at a rally celebrating its anniversary. When I discussed this with my wheelchair using friends, some of their replies shocked me.

Many agreed with me that while the ADA could use improvements, it has been very useful for people with disabilities. Some, however, believed the ADA had no positive effects. This struck me as ungrateful, but I realized that they just didn't have experience living as a person with a disability before the ADA.


Click here to read this essay


Volume 8, Number 1



Trauma by Christopher Jon Heuer

     
There are two police officers in our dining room.  They’ve come to take my father away.
He’s standing by the table in his underwear, hands cuffed behind his back.  My mother is trying to hang her burgundy housecoat over his shoulders so he won’t be naked when they take him outside.  The housecoat has feminine floral patterns and looks ridiculous on him. She looks ridiculous, too, being all concerned for his appearance when she’s the one who called the police in the first place.


Click here to read this creative non-fiction piece





What He Had Lost By Todd Hanks  


Living in a group home for the mentally ill,

he often wondered what it was he was looking for.

The young man had blood stains on his leather jacket,

scarred wrists and scared eyes.



Click here to read this poem



Bull Rider by Deborah Sheldon


The stadium reeked of hay, leather and manure. Ryan kept his arm around Sandra to protect her from the bump and shove of the crowd, a swirling flow of denim, checked shirts and the odd Stetson hat. Some of the hats were chewed and dusty but most looked fresh out of the box.

Ryan said, "Just look at these idiots would you, Mum? It's like a fancy dress party."

Sandra didn't reply. She kept her gaze doggedly forward, looking at nothing. She could only make small flat-footed steps and it took them a long time to reach their allocated seats, 11F and 11G. Ryan guided his mother gently into the plastic chair and slung himself down next to her. He was sweating already. What the hell, at least they were here, finally sitting in this crappy stadium in this crappy town after a two-hour drive from Melbourne.



Click here to read this short story




Smell of Fireman, We have no Earlids by Akua Lezli hope  



Smell of firemen lingers in my bedroom,
the metal guard rail i will wipe
with alcohol, still warm 
from their hands…


Click here to read Akua’s poems






Spare Me From Your Followers by Daniel Latham  



WWJD - What would Jesus do?  The bumper stickers, bracelets, and t- shirts began popping up like locusts during a biblical plague a few years ago. They were so prevalent in my corner of the world that I started to feel like a Sneetch without a star on my belly.

I wasn’t sure what the question meant. Was it a plea for the reader to think before taking action?  Was the person displaying the sign asking my opinion?  I’ll tell you: Jesus would use his turn signals, Jesus would vote Green, Jesus would buy organic.



Click here to read this essay





Excessive Force by John Lee Clark  

Feeling my way down the street, if I ever   
feel the cold  
kiss of a gun or the cold  
lick of a blade, I shall  
break the law. I'll  
inhale the sweet night air and then  
explode. . .



Click here to read this poem







By A Leg by D.I. Telbat  


Jennifer Bertrand thought briefly about slowing down on the icy highway, but the roads had been sanded the night before and the trucker in front of her was driving just as fast. She wasn't behind schedule in reaching Uncle Trav's winter cabin, but she was speeding anyway.

The nineteen-year-old tapped the steering wheel in rhythm to the pop rock blasting from the two-door, cherry-red coupe. The highway snaked along a steep mountainside on her right.  A half-frozen river churned through snowy trees at the bottom of the embankment on her left. Jen glanced down at the river and shivered at the prospect of such a tumble. Her parents would never forgive her, even if she died. She laughed aloud at the thought. Her parents loved her more than their new car, so she had been able to talk them into letting her drive it into the mountains alone.


Click here to read this short story


Heaven’s Hope by Venetia Ghozlan


Heaven is a fevered hope for the dispossessed
a mirage that blooms as we lay dying
it is a placebo to sweeten a soured mythos
a carrot to dangle before the unrepentant
it is the payout for living the lie of sacrifice


Click here to read this poem

Volume 7, Number 3

 

Breath and Shadow


Summer 2010

Volume 7, Number 3



On A Frozen Lake

By Madison Bridgen


The sun shone on the grey ice. It was barren of snow, unusual for early March, but the broken mirror of the surface didn’t complain. It sat like a disk in between the forested banks, and even though the centre was cracked open the surface was studded with the tin sided huts of ice fishermen.


Click here to read this short story



Alzheimer’s:Living with Dementia

once we thought THEY
   were just wacky/crazy
zombies

forgetting everything

Oh you are…?
now
something's wrong
with us
DIAGNOSIS.

Click here to read this group poem



My Cane and Me

By Amy Barta


A stuffed gymnasium housed the hundreds of graduates from the University of Michigan-Dearborn. On the sides of the seated students donning navy robes and colored ribbons determined by their field of study were family members and friends. The student speaker that day in April 2007 focused her inspirational speech on a fellow graduate, me. She described how I’d overcome enormous challenges to achieve a Bachelors Degree with high honors.

      

Click here to read this essay



A Poem of Epic Scale which I've Attempted a Dozen Times Before and Failed Miserably

by Steven Miller


The walls in there were white, just like in the films,
but so are walls in most new, apartment buildings.
I shared a room with two people far less
crazy than me and one far crazier.
I couldn't write. I couldn't read…

Click here to read this poem



The Bracelet

by Geoffrey C. Porter


I took to wearing long sleeve shirts on my fourteenth birthday. Two years before, I’d received my bracelet, and the restrictions started. I was born with the sugar disease, and ever since I’ve been on insulin. The insulin doesn’t matter, for it lives in a simple little pump I wear around my bicep. I replaced the cartridges with fresh ones and keep an eye on the battery charge. I could charge it with any one of my other devices, so that didn’t bother me. What bothered me was the stinking bracelet.


Click here to read this short story



Baptism

By Linda A. Cronin


Three times a week, I come to the pool

at Children’s Specialized Hospital to exercise.

Even in the middle of winter, the warm, moist air

reminds me of the humid days of summer. Since

I’m unable to descend the ladder or to walk on land,

when I am ready Pam transfers me to a stretcher

which is lifted out over the pool then lowered gently

into the water where Sue stands ready to release me.


Click here to read this poem



The Day I Drowned At Tin Can Beach

by Paula Apodaca


I shouldn’t be telling you this. I don’t mean it’s a secret, I just mean, I shouldn’t even be here. The summer after I turned five, I drowned in the ocean and was saved by my uncle Don.

When I was little, summer meant bundling up towels, blankets, bottles of Sea and Ski, Noxzema, lawn chairs and telescoping forks, hot dogs, buns, mustard, relish, marshmallows, pots of chili with mushrooms, and a giant metal tin of saltines. We never owned a cooler of any kind, so the afternoon before our seasonal trip, Mama would go from house to house, neighbor to neighbor, in search of a Coleman’s cooler…


Click here to read this essay



Quilts, Flags and Other Wrappings

by Sergio Ortiz


I started the quilt
when the only reminder
of civility I had was a stuffed doll
whose stitches came undone
under the weight of my books.


Click here to read this poem



Balance

by Rebecca Cook


I’m in a wheelchair--I’m not brain dead.”
               

I know, but what if you need help? What if something bad happens?”
               

What if it does? I can handle this.”
               

If you’re sure. . .” Uncertainty dripped from every syllable.
               

See you in a few days. I love you, Mom. I’m getting on the train now.”


I overrode her last minute worries and some of my own as I hung up the phone. I was assured that the train was “handicapped accessible” and felt optimistic. I went up the ramp and surveyed where I would be spending the next thirteen hours.


Click here to read this short story

My Dad Saves Me by Gary Blume

 

 

It’s the early sixties

On an island smack

In the middle of

The Mississippi

And Minneapolis

Where no sandy

Beached island

Belongs

 

Click here to read this poem

 

 

 

 

Who Dresses You? by Amy Krout-horn 

 

 

Gabriel lifted his glass, offered a birthday toast, and leaned closer to kiss me, whispering something in my ear that was as dirty as his martini. The innuendo raised my eye brows and the corners of my mouth, and as the server returned, my blush lingered.
 

"It looks like the two of you are having a good time in the Keys," she teased.

Under the table, Gabriel ran a finger beneath the hem of my skirt, painting my face a deeper shade of crimson. He smiled at the amused waitress and replied, "Yes, we're having quite a good time."

 

Click here to read this creative non-fiction piece

 

 

A Stab At Angels, For M By Nancy Scott

 

I play your CDs, wandering
among your wanting
drugs and love and God
and knees that worked
and effortless thinness
and choreless money
and no more heart caths.

Click here to read Nancy’s poems

 

 

BOTHERED AND BEWILDERED by Thomas Gagnon

 

 

As each day's beat beneath me subsides,
it requires a bell-pull at my brain
to schedule for tomorrow's June day
sense with dashes of sensibility,
each day no longer a medieval cathedral
buttressed by my engaged and engaging
students of Romantic and modern music history.

Click here to read this poem

 

 

Garden Blend Buck Stops by Karen S. Kane

 

 

April, 1973. The summer-like early night seemed breathless and clammy, truly, the last legs of that day, as Claudine Maine pulled the diner door open, stepped out. Break time.

She grasped her waitress cap/hairnet with one hand, tussling free long thick black waves at the sides of her face, while her other hand snatched a scrap paper sign loosed from the glass as she'd passed. “New Management” read red crayon letters. Tape gave up, it'd been there a month. She crumpled the paper, tossed it in the trash can beside her, then sat on the curb of the entryway walk.

 

Click here to read this novel excerpt

 

 

 

Cement By Esté Yarmosh

 

 

I wanted a child,

But she didn’t come. 

 

You have a lovely little girl here.

 

They didn’t tell me you’d be deaf and

Fucked up.

God didn’t say so either.

In ancient Greece,

I would have had you

Exposed, as Oedipus was --

Stranded in an open place,

So Nature would swallow you.

 

Click here to read this poem

 

 

 

Spring Harvest, Haiku by Akua Lezli Hope

 
The Mennonite boys came

with a mother, this time. Her gold

disk earrings molten in cold spring.

Dusk hovering long enough

to gather spent milkweed.

Frank, who will study in Utah

gets it and gathers fistfuls of fluff

quizzes me about seeds

and cooking, while the  brothers

dark and light, thick and thin

tug spent stalks from rain-softened ground

filling my bags.

 

Click here to read Akua’s poems



Censorship: Plato vs. Socrates by Louis B. Shalako 

 

It was Margaret Atwood, Canada’s best-known author, who said in an interview with TVO’s Allen Gregg; “Most letters to the editor are written by retarded people, because they don’t have to worry about losing their jobs.”

This was broadcast and repeated earlier this year.

Over the last year there have been one or two columns in the local daily paper where the writers stated, “We have the right to offend one another.”

In Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451,’ the basic premise of the story is that the government was burning books. All books. Bradbury’s brilliant twist on an old plot was that the government wasn’t totalitarian. The people themselves had demanded it, because they didn’t like reading stuff that upset them.

 

Click here to read this essay

 

Damaged Goods by AJ Pearson-VanderBroek  

  

The way they talk – seems to say – she’s damaged goods—of course she’s on sale – because I’m pretty –I’m considerate – I’m a size 0 – and if I had long hair – and less hardware – I’d be a ten – but a couple pieces of molded plastic – a few scars – and suddenly – the only reason I’m not a relentless uncompromising bitch – is because I’m disabled

 

Click here to read this poem


Feasting by Diane Hoover Bechtler


The anesthesiologist was long gone, slipping others into dreamless night, which was a shame. I wanted to thank her for the easy drift. Where others had knocked me out cold, she made good on her promise to ease me under. The drugs had changed and were much kinder now. I was soon awake and clear-headed. Or so I thought.


Someone said, “Is her mouth drooping?”



Click here to read this essay



Again, Explainations, and Responses by Kathleen Grieger


Bandages off, I’m allowed
to sit up. I turn one way, seeing no
difference. Inspecting the other,
I gaze into the mirror
Right side curving softly,
curls cover my shoulder
Left side, shaved and stapled

Click here to read Kathleen’s poems




Legislative Awareness Day by Erika Jahneke


Ned Corner(R-IN) liked to think of himself as a Fair Man. He pictured that sentence in a history book, or in his eulogy.


Kelly!” Corner yelled for his smartest page. “I need you to do some research for me.”


Sir?”


Kelly was prompt, reliable, female, and too serious to have dirty thoughts about. In short, she was the perfect staffer for the post-Foley era. This was a good thing, because whether or not Corner was a fair man, he was a lazy one, called Cutting Corner by his generous House colleagues.


Click here to read this short story



Goose Gobbles Joy, Webs and Razors by Dorothy Baker


The dream drums,

The wind goose comes

The wire tightens

Winter’s hold.

A war blots out the sun.

 

Click here to read Dorothy’s poems



Where Have All The Ducks Gone? By Katy Wimhurst


As she often did these days, Louise walked alone into the urban park, wandering down a wide avenue lined with lime trees. It was raining a little, but sunlight penetrated through gaps in the clouds, giving the park an odd, luminescent glow. The light seemed alien to Louise, like it wasn't real, like it'd somehow been artificially painted onto the gloomy air. She turned left down a narrow pathway and her attention was drawn to a couple standing in the shadows under an oak tree, engrossed in a kiss. She stopped and stared at them, then bit down on her lip and hurried on.

Click here to read this short story



Lost by Sergio Ortiz

There is no simple way

of getting misplaced

in the city: too many signs,

landmarks, and directions.

I'd run, no walk, to be lost


Click here to read this poem



Take My Legs. Please. by Rosalie McClung


What’s the best way to kill yourself? Let’s see. There’s strangulation. I could hang myself with an old pair of pantyhose from the tree in the front yard. But that’s a bit too public. Everybody driving by could see me wrangle and rot. And then any loose dog might be tempted to nibble my carcass.

Forcing me to suffer through eighties country music might do the trick. That twang serves up a deadly chord. Gagging over a swallow of caviar might offer a terminal end.


Click here to read this essay


Volume 6 Number 4; Fall 2009

Interdimensions by Todd Hanks

I discarded my sanity like
a dream from the night before.
Slime-topped minutes dripped
from a sundial.
Delusion was a man who
blinded me with jellyfish hands...

Click here to read this poem

On Reading Books by Bill Turley   

When I consider my lifetime of reading, I know I must look at it through a skewed lens due to my particular mix of learning disabilities. My Cerebral Palsy prevents me from writing legibly, while ADD affects my reading speed and comprehension. It is, however, a reading life worth examining.

Click here to read this essay

Erythromycin by Nicole Kuppers 

The crickets outside
The window were gone
And when I heard the sound
Of the hissing in my ears
I imagined 15 doctors
Escorting me to hell
And thought that I would
Never hear a sound again

Click here to read this poem



Embers to Ashes by Jennifer Gifford 

I was reading the obituary page the day I met my husband. It’s a little odd, I’ll admit. Morbid curiosity I guess. My future husband, a tax specialist with eye-lashes most women would die for, joked that the obits were a great way to find a new job. Glancing over my shoulder, sipping from his medium hazelnut, he said, “Hey, I hear there’s a new opening in the shipping department at Sears…”

Click here to read this short story

Beach Song, Night by Megan Kelly

Beach chair sits firm at the water's edge
Gulls swoop and sigh, slicing the moisture
bloated air
Heightened scents of sand, salt and sunscreen…

Click here to read these poems

Red Kowalski’s Bloody Strange Day by Adam Pick 

It was at 14:45 precisely, on a suitably wet, windy and forlorn Tuesday that Red Kowalski became aware that his attempt to get through the day unscathed had failed catastrophically. His life wasn’t great in general. He was a social worker and lived in a horrid place.  Considering this was meant to be a “luxury apartment,” the view wasn’t  so great, nor the apartment that luxurious. Let’s face it--his landlord was so bloody devious, that if the apartment had developed a leaky roof in the bathroom prior to his moving in, it would have been advertised  as having been fitted with a power shower.

Click here to read this short story

Lie Down Spasticus by P.A. Levy

There's a tensile edge to us;
alloy lightweight
extra strong accessories to our limbs that would
otherwise collapse with intermittent jestful ease, to leave us looking drunk and disorderly…

Click here to read this poem

What I Learned Last Night by Jeanette Beal

I saw the touring cast version of Rent at the Colonial in Boston last night.  It was a birthday gift to me from my lovely partner.  We were 3rd row, center and I swear I felt some Anthony Rapp spit hit my forehead.  He was hamming it up for the audience, while  Adam Pascal was kind of droopy.

As I sat in the third row, attired in work clothes and fiddling with my hesitant pup, I couldn't help but reflect on the 19 year old girl who sat 3rd row in a velvet dress in the Neiderlander with friends on either side, freshly inundated into her first semester of college and besotted with New York City.

Click here to read this essay

Insomnia by Azure R Angelus

This faulty rhythm cycles through my body
I have staggered with it always
When I was an unnumbered child
It was the tick-tock of the clock
That reminded me with each notch of noise
How awake I was through passing increments…

Click here to read this poem

Volume 6, Number 2; Spring 2009


Smoking, Before the Coffin by Jeanette Beal

A pot on the burner
you forgot about and left
on medium heat
simmering still not boiling
is less dangerous
than the boiling kettle
whistling through the hallways
of a bad dream...

Click here to read these poems



Relapse by Ilana Jacqueline

I am not on fire. Not on fire. I have to convince myself not to let my arms jerk open to swing where they might catch the air. Every part of me wants to, every part of me hurts. Every singular molecule of my being is radiating with misery. I used to be proud that I did this every day. That I let myself breathe in and out the intolerable--but always shockingly bearable crushing of physical hurt and that panicked starvation for relief. It was never coming, and the pain was undoubtedly never ending. But it had ended--and if not ended had at least become livable--manageable and beautifully noiseless in its daily existence in my life.

Click here to read this short story



Good as Gold by Patti Rutka

On a fresh, dewy day in May, where the woods of Maine approach the coast, I stood in the riding ring at Bush Brook Stable, home of Ever After Mustang Rescue, feeling like an idiot while I waved around a carrot. I was trying to get the dang horse to let me pat his neck. Patting, so normal for ninety-eight percent of horses, was utterly out of the question for Good as Gold. He nearly jumped out of his horsey skin the first time I made a light slapping noise on his neck. His fear was large, as was mine, although for completely different reasons. Or so I thought at the time.

Click here to read this essay



Medical Journals (a triad of poems) by Kristin Roedell

Speak from your heart,
my father is listening
his silver instruments
as sensitive
as a lover’s ear--
Open, be opened,
like a bride,
to his most tender touch.

Click here to read these poems



The Bathroom Battle by Tatiana Hamboyan Harrison

Every day in elementary school, an aide follows me around, including into the bathroom. It's the epic humiliation: having an adult go into the bathroom with you. It doesn't matter whether or not the other kids know about it. I know it, and it makes me feel ashamed that I can't even go to the bathroom by myself.

It's not even that I can't use the toilet alone or have trouble getting on and off the seat. I wear spandex pants every day because I can't do zippers or buttons. My only consolation is that spandex pants are somewhat popular, though most of my classmates wear jeans.

Click here to read this creative non-fiction piece



Let’s Make a Deal by Dorothy Baker

Trinity stood behind Peyton with her arms around her waist as Peyton faced herself in the mirror for the first time since her left breast had been removed.

"It's not so bad, right?" Trinity nuzzled Peyton's shoulder blade which was level with the top of her head.

"What does it matter--the Spectre's going to get me eventually, anyway."

"Okay, Sunshine, what's Phil Spector got to do with anything?"

"Not PHIL Spector, THE Spectre. The Grim Reaper, the Angel of Death. And it's already got it's big old jack-booted foot wedged in my door..." Peyton's mouth was a grim line. She never cried, not even after the surgery.

Click here to read this short story



The Urban Funeral by Stephanie Green

On a moonlit walk through the cemetery
One is never alone
No more can the weary dead rest in peace
With all this damn racket
Boy-racers zooming past, broken bottles
Clanging on the fence
Drunkards and revelers, stumbling through
Shortcut to the pub...

Click here to read this poem




Volume 6, Number 1; Winter/Spring 2009


Radioactive, Rivers of Steel, As If They Were Real by Steven Michael Graham

It was just a friendly hug

and yet...

her arms, around me, were warm as a sunbeam

and nearly as soft.

It was the sort of hug that you can still feel

even after it's gone

for half an hour;

a tingling tickling across your back,

seeping into those old wounds

where you once had wings.

Click here to read these poems



The Signing by Penelope Friday

The nerves start the week before. This was a bad idea. What am I thinking of, putting myself up in front of people? Agreeing to talk to people, when my social anxiety's been so bad for years that my neighbors are beginning to wonder if I'm a vampire, if I ever come out of the house. Maybe if I stay huddled up in bed, the curtains drawn, no one will remember that I'm supposed to be signing books tomorrow. Maybe we can all forget the whole thing and go back to how we were.

Click here to read this short fiction



MRI Follow up by Natalie E. Illum

The jewelry I knew

to remove in advance. The crutches

too reactive to enter. Better to bring

the stretcher out here. I agree, allow

myself to be shifted into position, anchored

so that my head is caged. I agree, though

nurses and elderly patients stroll by, barely

blink at my exposure...

Click here to read this poem



Steps by Erin Lauridsen

The dance floor is alive, and I am dazed. The music is loud enough to block out the subtle sounds that usually give shape to space, turning everyone into an amorphous and shifting landscape doused in bad eighties pop music. "This is great!" my three friends say, trying to describe the aged and the eccentric, the hip young graduate students next to the vintage novelists. We are undergraduates at a large industry conference for writers, and we have been waiting all week to attend this party, speculating what might happen when the bitter rejected writers and the overworked and jaded publishers at this conference consume a few drinks. We were hoping for a brawl to break out over the role of reader response theory in graduate schools. What we find instead is the atmosphere of a high school dance, with the enhancement of booze and a diverse crowd.

Click here to read this creative non-fiction piece



Moon's Advantage by Laura Aranda

The moon's romantic glow

Illuminates the lake's ripples ceaselessly

Ebbing at the hour of no sin...

Click here to read this poem



Consumers by Julie Greene

Political correctness has swept the field of medicine from dermatology to pediatrics, and certainly psychiatry has had its share of terminology-laundering. As a mental patient, I face the PC question on a daily basis: "Loony-bin," "funny farm," and "nut case" are out, for obvious reasons, but some very, very sensitive people, with an eye for anything offensive, have declared that "mental patient" and "mentally ill" are out as well; the words are ugly and shameful. These folks think they're doing us a favor by inventing another, more pleasant word for what we really are: "Consumers."

Click here to read this essay



Fiddling With Pain by Joyce Frohn

The fiddler rosins up his bow,

long fingers curl around a block of blood

He plays a scale upon my nerves.

Always rising, never falling.

Fingering first here, then there...

Click here to read this poem





A Note From My Mother, Waiting For Word: On My Mother's Heart Attack by Stephanie De Haven

Your birth was the birth of an idea born squirming

and red--but silent--with hair like blood in water and brass

attitudes. My sweet child, who I pushed into this world wet and

precious--my red pearl--I know you. You will grow into a squirming

toddler, a red child, and finally, a silent adolescent.

Click here to read these poems






Volume 5, Number 7; Fall/Winter 2008


In The Night; A Road Not Chosen by Louise Mathewson

In the dark of night

she heard

Soul speak

"You are a prophet."

Again, it spoke,

"You are a poet,

gold to the world.

Click here to read these poems



Strangers On a Bus by Michael Merriam

I board the #6 bus in Minneapolis' Dinkytown neighborhood heading for the Uptown district. Once there, my plan is to make the short walk to DreamHaven Books to drop off some fliers for my upcoming reading. Instead of taking my usual spot at the front of the bus, I decide to head for the back bench. I know the bus driver: He's good about announcing the stops into the microphone, his clear baritone voice easy to understand through the dodgy lowest-bidder sound system that Metro Transit favors.

Sometimes I want to sit away from the handicapped and senior citizen seats, and I've ridden this route so many times I can tell where I am by the turns and dips and bumps. I know I won't miss my stop at Uptown Station. I settle into the back corner and lean my head against the cool glass.

Click here to read this short story



Dancing Through Fire by Dorothy Baker

This is a stunning, moving film. There are no wasted images, no extraneous words. Each frame, each spoken phrase has a powerful impact. Yet the real beauty of it is that its message and tone feel accessible and uplifting throughout. Karina Epperlein's award winning documentary, "Phoenix Dance," is a visual and spiritual journey--a reconnection with a childlike curiosity and trust.

Click here to read this film review



For Patrick by Jessica Hoard

You flipped me off the first time we met.

You, laughing and maniacal from behind your windshield, Mary
clinging to the door, begging you not to drive home.

Fucking asshole, I thought.

You drove home.

You never did remember that night-or admit to remembering it.

Click here to read this poem



Chrysalis by Lisa Coburn

Eyes closed, I listen as patches of my psychiatrist's words filter through the haze. "...Extremely treatment resistant. I think we should consider shock therapy."

My eyes fly open. "Shock therapy?"

I study the diplomas dotting the wall as he explains the procedure. Messily scribbled crayon masterpieces break the monotony of academic certificates.

"I like you Dr. E," one child raves in lime green writing. I would like him a lot better if he weren't talking about screwing with my brain.

Click here to read this creative non-fiction piece



Is This A Poem? by Dorothy Baker

Is this a poem?:
"An empty gift box, blue striped and snow flaked, sits on a table, a reminder
of your recent visit.
You came to celebrate my January birthday, bringing forsythia blossoms
coaxed from the heart of winter (not forced, for that is not your style).
I almost turned you away, feeling anything but celebratory in the throes of
my sun-starved depression.

Click here to read this poem



Mr. Tambourine Man by Erika Jahneke

He had what the balding white guy wanted, and he knew it.

Wasn't too many white guys in this neighborhood after dark, otherwise. This one had a woman with him, a girl, really. Young. Fresh young, blonde, pretty. Nothing had been near those veins. She was new enough looking that back in old Willie Johnson's day, even a businessman like Clayvon would have felt obligated to send her home and tell her to leave this shit to the hard-core fiends, and go back to smoking herb in her little pink bedroom, like on television.

Click here to read this short story



Boy From Outer Space; Working Horse; Borderline Young Woman Waits For Her Therapist by Rachael Z. Ikins

Childnoises
Bounce off gym walls
With kickballs

You see that kid?
With tissue-paper skin
And black eyes

Surprised!

In the whiteness of his face?
Children sneaker-slap
Floor clap

By me. . .

Click here to read these poems



The Indignity of Blindness by Chris Kuell

I had a lively debate with my sixteen-year-old son a few days ago. We were discussing the movie Blindness, which opened on October 3, and is based on the novel written by Portuguese author José Saramago. Like most teenage males, my son thought the previews looked great, with glimpses of epidemic, chaos, violence and horror. I'm familiar with this type of movie's appeal, as I saw I Am Legend and 28 Days with him-both films about the human struggle to overcome an unknown virus which turns people into raging, zombiesque creatures. Saramago's twist is that people become blind and are segregated, which he postulates will naturally lead to societal devolution.

Click here to read this essay






Volume 5, Number 6; September, 2008


Making Tracks, Sunlight, Battle Scars by Glenda Barrett

I couldn't stifle the urge
to hike mountain trails,
raft rugged rivers,
picnic in the park,
fish mountain streams,
swim under waterfalls
and bask in the sun
on large, flat rocks
while really listening
to the birds singing
as if it was critical
to my survival.

Looking back,
after my excursions,
my instincts were right.

Click here to read these poems



Blood From A Stone by Madeleine Parish

On a recent October Sunday that felt more summer than fall, more dense than crisp, I visited a meditation garden at the home of a physician who emigrated from Japan to Connecticut in the sixties. The friend who invited me didn't provide much background, except that the garden had been over thirty years in the making and that it was rarely open for public viewing.

I'm not much of a gardener myself. I've done a reasonably good job of bolstering my little gray Cape's "curb appeal" with a few andromeda and arborvitae. But my backyard (which I know aches with potential) swings between manic overgrowth and depressive neglect. I'm sure I'd get pleasure from making more of the little patch outside my sunroom, but lacking both confidence and cash, I'm paralyzed in perennial planning. Plus, the thought of tending a garden for three decades? Unfathomable. I stayed in my first house for over fifteen years, but since then, it's been three years here, three years there, all in pursuit of better investment return. At least that's what I told myself.

Click here to read this essay



Metaphor On Stage - Movie Review by Ann Chiappetta

Acting Blind is a behind the scenes look into a non-professional group of actors rehearsing the play, "Dancing to Beethoven". The film follows the group's metamorphosis as they evolve from a haphazard bunch of amateurs into a practiced, balanced, performance group.

All the actors are blind and all but one experienced vision loss later in life. A few moments are taken to capture each actor's own struggle with the onset of his or her disability. For instance, one woman recalls the time she drove her car off the road: It was the last time she got behind the wheel.

Click here to read this review



MISERY: An adaptation from Chekhov by Laban Hill

The jets' relentless roar over Kennedy Airport pollutes the hearing of all nearby as the endless line of waiting yellow cabs exhaust what little breathable air there is. Flood lights positioned every few dozen feet blot out any semblance of twilight. The cold penetrates wherever it can: cracked windows, loosely buttoned coats, exposed skin. Abdullah Mohamet, a cabbie near the front of the line, buries himself in his seat with the heat blasting full force. After ten years in the city, his skin still stings when it comes in contact with even the slightest breeze. He's a creature of the desert. His dreams are crowded with hot, violent suns that boil the marrow.

He sits immobile, hunched low behind the wheel, giving his cab an appearance of abandonment. Every once in a while a shiver, deeper than any cold could possibly bring on, undulates through his body from his toes through his legs and up his spine to his scalp like dominoes falling in a line. The engine of his cab hums along steadily and monotonously, its soft, warming vibration reminiscent of an embrace.

Click here to read this short story



The Bookstore on the Mount by Thomas Gagnon

The postcard I am pretending
to find fascinating
  is of the Virgin Mary,
  in Renaissance blue, with fleshly child.

  The Paulist bookstore's one customer,
  clad in formal blue and gray,
  quietly browses; I quietly
  envy him, in a vague, uncertain way
  that deadens my abdomen.

Click here to read this poem



Dimmer Beacons by Joanne Marinelli

By 1991 I was twenty-eight, three years past the half-way mark of twenty-five, two years before the big three-0. Not old in terms of a modern life span, but my bloom now hung heavier, my mind more impatient with aspirations yet unrealized, including the hope of a germane transformation, yet another variation on the Pygmalion myth the poet Ovid was kind enough to leave behind for Hollywood. (Think of Leslie Howard and Wendy Hiller in the 1938 film of the same name, adapted from the play by George Bernard Shaw, which in turn led to the 1956 musical, My Fair Lady...) I would root out the loud and bilious working class origins, exchange them for a cosmopolitan hauteur and intellect that was perfectly cool and restrained, thus lifeless, or if not quite that, at least have a shield from the blows no one can contain.

Click here to read this essay






Volume 5, Number 5; July, 2008


POETRY


A Sense of a Man, You and You, Essay by Stephanie Green

Today I have a sense of a man on the corner
a man I walk past ever so often
click-clacking along as I do
that scent of unwashed whiskers, his razor blunt
from scraping forty years of dirt off his shoes
clasping fingers that reach, grasping at that innate
logic of superiority, but I know where I am heading
I am never lost

Read Stephanie Green's poems



CREATIVE NON–FICTION


SELINA O'BRIEN

Birthweek
It was my birthday yesterday. Wish me happy birthday? Thank you. My star sign is Libra, which according to the Dine astrology chart means that I am supposed to like a good balance of leisure and social activity and that I enjoy smooth and uncomplicated relationships. Yet, I prefer to think of myself as a Leo. I do like to stand out from the crowd and enjoy being the life of the party. In addition, I have a real desire to assist others and help out around the house, as much as She will let me.

I am not very good at keeping track of time: it is not one of my many positive qualities. Nevertheless, I always know when it is my birthday because my personal health provider, Dr. Keith, sends me a birthday card.

Read Selina O'Brien's creative non-fiction piece.



SHORT STORY


ILANA JACQUELINE

Scream

It took effort just to get out of the car. Just to open the door, and get out, and say hello, how are you? And to open the door, and get back in again. To sit and wait for the pleasantries to end, and to drive away, far away, to anywhere but here.

It's not that you don't like your editor. It's not that you're all that anxious about what you wrote in the issue. Its not that you're nervous about anything in particular. You just feel it sometimes. You just feel it. A bubbling nausea, a searing ache in every bone. A cluttered, dizzy sensation. Like you're drowning. Like you've always been drowning.

Read Ilana Jacqueline's short story.



BOOK REVIEW


GARY BLOOM

Driving Without A Map
David Karp, a Professor of Sociology at Boston College and the author of Speaking of Sadness: Depression, Disconnection, and the Meanings of Illness, writes about what he knows in his latest book. He has suffered from depression most of his life and knows all too well the personal dilemma involved in taking antidepressants. Along with his own experience, Karp interviewed 50 people who also take medication for depression. In, Is It Me or My Meds? he looks at antidepressants through the eyes of those actually using them. What he finds is an experience much different from what the drug companies portray in their ads.

Read Gary Bloom's book review.



ESSAY


TERI ZUCKER

It's OK Not To Be OK
I am mentally ill; that's much easier to write than to say. Yet, I read my own statement and feel it is an exaggeration, as I associate mental illness with someone who is dangerous to others. But with me, the danger stays inside my head. I have obsessive compulsive disorder, commonly known as OCD. I've had it for years and didn't even know it. I just knew I was "different." Then one day, leisurely reading an Anne Landers column, I noticed a letter written by someone who claimed to have something called OCD. Like me, this person engaged in behavior that many would consider unusual, or even bizarre: checking work over and over again to see if a mistake had been made; worrying about forgetting to turn off or leave on lights; fearing contact with dirt, germs, etc. It was somewhat comforting to learn that my weirdness is something other people go through, and it even had a name - albeit, in my opinion, not a very good one.

Read Teri Zucker's essay.




Volume 5, Number 4; April 30, 2008; Potpourri Issue


POETRY


PATRICIA WELLINGHAM–JONES

New Downward Cycle Every Three Weeks, Pieces of the Moon, Pillow, Losses

I pull my body out of bed,
shuffle down the hall,
squint at the furnace buttons,
hope I press 'on'.

Heading back for those last minutes
of body flat on mattress
I notice light spilling
from his room.

Read Patricia Wellingham–Jones' poems



CREATIVE NON–FICTION


LEAH MEREDITH

All We Have To Go On
Making sense of your wants is playing charades without the rules, making socks without the pattern, packing clothes without a box. Do you want dinner, a toy, a bath? It's CIA-grade guesswork. Your needs—love, food, motion, sleep—appear simple, but your silence lends them complexity. I hope you speak up soon . . .

Read Leah Meredith's story.



SHORT STORY


DAVID BOLT

Spangles

1

A Man was unconscious on his kitchen floor when a boy walked in expecting the usual mixture of song, humour and breakfast.
"Dad?"
An upset stool was lying next to the man, but his black Labrador looked on without concern.
Oh my God, no, Dad."
As the boy rushed over to the telephone, the man's red cheek was pressed hard against the cold black and white tiles. It was only a matter of seconds, but he resisted laughter for as long as he could and then leaped high into the air.
"I got you this time Master Jones, I got you this time well and truly."

Read David Bolt's short story.



BOOK REVIEW


ERIKA JAHNEKE

The Short Bus
I both loved and hated this book. I loved it for its fast–reading, wacky, almost outlaw tone, and for the exciting and vital cast of characters Jonathan Mooney met while driving an iconic "short bus" across America. My favorite was Kent, performance artist, and author of the book Portrait of Your Momma as a Young Man who has turned his ADHD into Steven Wright–meets–Andy–Kaufman comedy riffs . . .

Read Erika Jahneke's book review.



ESSAY


ROY A. BARNES

My Travelin' Roots
Sometime during my sixth year on this planet, my father, Marvin Barnes, asked me if I would like to travel with him in his semi–truck during some of his long haul trips around the country. I was very excited about doing so, and ultimately would log thousands of miles in states east and south of Wyoming when school was not in session.

Read Roy Barnes' essay.



POETRY

GAIL LIVESAY

All There Is

I sit in a world of beauty.
The trees wave their arms in good cheer.
The flowers bow their colorful heads. The grasses whisper in rapture . . .

Read Gail Livesay's poem.




Volume 5, Number 3; March 28, 2008; Spring Cleaning


POETRY


LOUIE CREW

Classified
INTERNATIONAL: CHOICE
HISTORIC RESIDENCES going
at a steal. Massive living rooms,
with built-in pipe organs, stained
glass windows, vaulted ceilings,
fonts, excellent reading stands, at
least one high table, with banquet
seating possible, and assorted ce–
lebrity chairs.
Read Louie Crew's poem.



SHORT STORY


KATHLEEN O'CONNOR

Dear One
The deer eats winter vegetation at the periphery of my yard. Occasionally, she flicks her tail, stops, and then stares forward and I could swear she is watching me. I drop my breakfast dishes into the sink to soak and continue staring out the kitchen window in admiration while I finish my coffee.

Ten minutes later, I grab my cane and head outside, wishing for the hundredth time that I owned an attached garage. I'm quiet about backing my car down the drive — just in case she is still enjoying breakfast, though I suspect she has gone.
Read Kathleen O'Connor's short story.



POETRY


MICHAEL LEE JOHNSON

Nikki
Watching doves
peck away,
all day long at
a full bowl
of mixed seeds . . .


Bathroom Visitor
A horsefly
travels the world
of my bathroom.
Stops at the kitty litter box
on occasion for refueling . . .
Read Michael Lee Johnson's poems.



CREATIVE NON–FICTION


RIA STRONG

Tales of a Magic Fairy
What do you see when you look at us? It's all a matter of perception.

My mother thinks I'm her fairy. Her magic fairy. Her memory fairy. Her wonderful can do anything fairy. Bubble wands and fairies. they seem to go together. So maybe my mother's right.
Read Ria Strong's story.



ESSAY


MADELEINE PARISH

The Birthday Party
We're together for the first time in five years. Three sisters. Terry, the oldest, pastes us together with persistence and illusion. She believes we can be a family, that we are a family. Julie, the youngest, bites her lower lip and wears a worried brow, even while driving her red Miata with the top down to her job as a South Florida city planner. And me, in the middle. I moved to Connecticut almost twenty years ago to cut free from my tangled roots, I thought. I know that my illness (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) structures my life in a way my family must find limiting, and that my writing aspirations might seem paltry and a little suspect. So when I return Upstate to the barren terrain on chilly Lake Ontario, where my neuroses and fears were planted, watered, and pruned, I take their suspicions as truth. I feel I've failed.
Read Madeleine Parish's essay.



POETRY


CINDY PRINCE

Basket Full of Memories
Basket of apples
Swinging
As I tag along singing
Following my brother
Sitting on Mother's lap
As I take my first bite
The skin tight
On my teeth . . .
Read Cindy Prince's poem.




Volume 5, Number 2; February 29, 2008; Disability and the Environment


POETRY


PETRA KUPPERS

Concrete
My hip hurts. What is it to you?
There is no street that
travels through though you
remember your aunt, or Skipper, the dog.

The street hurts. One step on the grass, skip over
the concrete bit
       relief
in the green middle.
Read Petra Kuppers' poem.



SHORT STORY


DOROTHY BAKER

Canary
It was another couch day for Jesse, reluctant canary in the environmental coal mine of Planet Earth. She and her chemically sensitive friends called themselves canaries, because they believed their illness was a warning about the health effects of chemicals. Like one of the caged canaries that used to warn miners of gas leaks by keeling over, their little feet pointing pathetically skyward, Jesse lay immobile on the couch.
Read Dorothy Baker's short story.



FILM REVIEW


ERIKA JAHNEKE

When Will I Dance Again
Sometimes the only companion Katherine Devoir has is her camera, an unlikely living arrangement for a dancer and performance artist, but Katherine's struggles with environmental illness have turned her life from "privileged and white" to the isolation of government benefits and trying to regain more of her health, knowing that the medical establishment does little to acknowledge her "invisible" condition.
Read Erika Jahneke's film review.



POETRY


KAMILA RINA

Perfect
Only years later you told me. When it could change
nothing. You used the word "perfect".

It was early May several springs ago; we weren't
dating — or so we told ourselves. I invited
you to the opening of my group photography
show, where my bit of wall hosted a set of self–portraits
titled "chronic fatigue girl dreams of flying".
I waited for you for hours outside the bustling gallery . . .
Read Kamila Rina's poem.



BOOK REVIEW


ARDEN ELI HILL

Origami Striptease
Origami Striptease, by acclaimed poet and short story writer Peggy Munson, is a Breath and Shadow reader's wet dream, as the debut novel exemplifies a blend of disability culture and literature. Munson folds descriptions of life with chronic illness, lust, love, queerness, borderlands, abuse, and survival into one impactful read. The protagonist of Origami Striptease is a queer writer who develops "ink poisoning" after her encounter with a complicated villain called The Sludge . . .
Read Arden Eli Hill's book review.



MONOLOGUE


SANDRA DEMPSEY

Air Apparent
Aisling: The air was fine. They said so. The air was positively good. The E.P.A. said they did test after test after test — it was apparent; perfectly all clear, so the air was fine.

And all I did was live in my little half–studio over a guy and his family that runs the bodega downstairs. Half dog–walking, half social assistance — it's all I can do to give the guy rent every month. Not a bad guy, poor, but nice family, cute little kids. He works like a dog and I can't believe people pay me money to walk theirs . . .
Read Sandra Dempsey's monologue.







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