Breath & Shadow

A Journal of Disability Culture and Literature

 Fall  2011
Volume 8, Number 4



August Sunset on City Glass

by Charles F. 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.

Raising another scotch-fueled toast up in praise

of our team, we announce our loyalty

with glints off seven glasses in blue smoke,

sax notes spun inside the liquid flutter

of jazz piano. My thirst for Vermeer light

sated through happy hour by the brunette

tending bar. Our crew palming the bar-rail,

standing ready for the next toast, work-chewed

hands sponging the cool beads off each glass.

The new guy toasts his first paycheck,

his glances following the bartender

as she fills hollows below the muted news.

Her ring-less hands moving bottle to glass,

the telling of what she knows a mural

of brushing silks over rose stems.

Casualties Before Dawn

by Charles F. Thielman

Night rain rivulets down

                        Chicago glass,

blue palms beating on the skins

                                     of city hives.

                                He twitches inside

                           a firefight broadcast live

from the rainforests of his subconscious,

                         barking orders in his sleep.

                          Snipered awake, he crouches

in double shadow between bed and wall.

            He breathes deeply in, then out, slow, steady.

Fingering his imagination’s trigger, he dissolves

   night-clad demons, then visualizes a sun-warmed hamlet,

teenagers flirting and day-dreaming,

     three clean white blouses drying in a light-filled breeze.

                     Preparing for a Friday at work,

he stretches six foot of solo in a doorway,

then readies himself in a mirror

his true eyes opening without faith

                          in the ruins, apartment air

striated by the scent of a lover’s last words

blank square on an emptied wall left as is.

Gone and gone, sinews of connected needs

                       rise out of the grave of a dream.

Raised in Charleston, S.C., and Chicago, educated at red-bricked colleges and on city streets, now retired via disability, Charles has worked as a youth counselor, truck driver, city bus driver, peer mentor for the Oregon Vocational Rehabilitation Department and enthused bookstore clerk. Recently married on a Kauai beach, a loving grandfather for ffive free spirits, Theilman’s inspired work as a Poet, Artiste and active shareholder in an independent Bookstore’s collective continues. He organizes readings at the store and is active on the Boards of the county and state writers’ organizations. Charles has had poems accepted by literary journals such as The Pedestal, The Oyez Review, Poetry Kanto and Uphook Press-- and a poem in Eugene's e-News journal, MyEugene.org. Theilman’s chapbook,

"Into the Owl-Dreamed Night" [Uttered Chaos Press, June 2011] includes 10 poems from his narrative series

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