Breath & Shadow

A Journal of Disability Culture and Literature

Summer 2015

Volume 12 Issue 3



Breath and Shadow
Summer 2015

Volume 12, Number 3

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


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

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