Breath & Shadow

A Journal of Disability Culture and Literature

Summer 2017

Volume 14 Issue 3



Breath and Shadow
Summer 2017
Volume 14 Issue 3

 Available in all formats,
Dozen: The Best of Breath and Shadow,
edited by Chris Kuell

Letter to My Child by AJ Rio-Glick

when hearing people write lies on your skin in front of your eyes, listen, but don't look.

they will think you're not there, disappeared into your head again, but make yourself listen, and make yourself speak back. speak truths.

when they call you inspirational, listen. you are, but not in the way that they mean. figure it out for yourself, and then trace the patterns that run away from your ears and all the way down your throat, down your chest, down your stomach, trace them alone, by yourself, and realize you are inspirational, but not in the way that they mean.

Click here to read AJ’s poem

The Song of the Rose by Alicia Cole

In the golden hall, symphonic practice progressed. Master Cossoto, his white hair tied back revealing his famous, cavernous right ear, considered the orchestra.

He stroked his left ear, dainty and well-proportioned in juxtaposition to the right, and thoughtfully said to a question from the horn section, “Aim for silver, please.”

The trumpeters sighed in relief. Silver was far easier to achieve than gold.

Click here to read Alicia’s story

How to Fall Well

by Pasquale S Toscano

On the penultimate day of inpatient rehabilitation, my physical therapist taught me how to fall—and then get back up. Falling was not in my estimation a skill that one “learned.” But I was told that when it happens, I’d need to do it the right way. Not if it happens, but when. “Because it will happen,” my therapist insisted. And it will happen to all of us, one way or another. I’ve indeed fallen no fewer than nine times since my accident. Yet I have emotionally fallen too, and I’ve been picked up again—by literature.

Click here to read Pasquale’s essay

The Second to the Last Time , Beluga Point, Alaska, The Weatherwoman Had a Boob Job

by Cinthia Ritchie

when the moon was full and I wore my navy silk pants / and my car got stuck in your driveway and I read poems on your rug naked / the space heater warming my ass / and you said I was a cat in another life and I laughed because I knew I was really a dog /

Click here to read Cinthia’s poems

From Ashes, Arise by Kat Otis

When life's wounds have become too great to heal on their own, God is a brutally efficient surgeon: the 1666 conflagration that destroyed London ended both the great plague and my precipitous plunge into debt. Unfortunately, cauterizing a wound is only the beginning.

Click here to read Kat’s short fiction

Left is Right, Right is Left by Emma B. Aird

It’s the end of the day and I’m leaving campus. It’s raining, my feet hurt and I’m tired. I parked in a parking garage I haven’t parked in before, so I’m leaving campus in a different way. It shouldn’t be that different or even difficult. I’m taking the same basic route back home. It should be easy. I turn left onto Speedway Blvd. and head west, it’s not until I see Cherry Avenue that I realized I was actually heading east all along.

Click here to read Emma’s essay

The Blind Flute Player by Amit Parmessur

Who is this valiant girl? Why is she sitting alone and

so erect on the wild rocks in twilight? Why is she playing so

mournfully today? Listening to her, my soul loses its soul...

Click here to read Amit’s poem

The Karma Bug by Erica Verrillo

Harriet woke up feeling slightly hungover, bleary from the after-effects of the bug that was going around. She reached over to her nightstand and flipped up the digital clock. 8AM. The arraignment had been set for 10AM. If she didn’t get moving, she was going to be late.

She hauled herself out of bed, slipped into a white silk blouse and gray skirt, and grabbed her make-up kit. A little lipstick could always be counted on to work wonders. There was nothing like a pout to distract a judge: the redder the better. She padded into the bathroom and gazed at her reflection in the mirror: brown hair that fell in soft waves to her shoulders, clear blue eyes, a pert nose. No mouth.

Click here to read Erica’s short story

The Right Fit by Kristy I. Kassie

"Christ," Shawn beamed over a steaming Tim Hortons French vanilla, "did we really do the clothes and the haircut in an hour? “Thanks, babe."

Across from him at the food court booth, I savored a chocolate-glazed donut. "You're welcome. You're going to look great for your interview. Thanks for being so patient."

"I couldn't do it alone. Department stores are bloody confusing."

I replayed the past hour. Meeting Shawn at the mall entrance and weaving our way through the afternoon shoppers - most who either didn't see our white canes or chose to ignore them and ran into us anyway . Navigating to and through the Zellers men's department. Picking out black pants and a blue long-sleeved shirt plus matching tie. Hunting down directions to the fitting room, locating the checkout to pay, backtracking to Tip Top Tailors and charming the manager into tying the tie because neither we nor the Zellers clerk had a clue there.

Click here to read Kristy’s essay

A Thought by Anaïs Verhoeven

I dream of travel

Of tunnels moving to cut through

The depths of air.

In these tunnels, I hear voices

Twisting like eels in an open sky

and they all say

The exact same thing: "Hurry"

Click here to read Anaïs’ poem

The Lucky One by Quentin Norris

Click, click, click.

Click, click, click.

Here I sit and here I’ll stay.

Fastened to this chair until the end of days.

These words I made up to keep myself sane circle through my head each and every day as I sit in my black cube until I’m allowed to leave, escorted back to a cell where I stare at the ceiling and imagine what death must feel like and whether or not I should have taken that road when I had the chance. And now I’ll never know.

Click here to read Quentin’s short story

Extraordinary Bodies is an Extraordinary Work: Book Review by Denise Noe

Rosemarie Garland Thomson’s Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature is a landmark work in the study of disability. In it, Thomson sensitively examines the ways disability has been interpreted in popular culture and literature.

In her preface to the book’s twentieth anniversary edition, Thomson reveals how the “seed for Extraordinary Bodies began to sprout in the late 1980s.” She notes that the book “was a latecomer to feminist literary studies and critical race studies, the academic movements from which it emerged.”

Click here to read Denise’s review

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