Breath & Shadow

A Journal of Disability Culture and Literature

 Winter  2011
Volume 8, Number 1



Excessive Force  

By John Lee Clarke

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. I'll  
kick the mugger down, my hands  
clawing for his throat, all my blind strength  
pounding his head. Or else I shall  
fall to my death. Please  
understand that I don't want to  
walk away only to  
run smack into a world where every shoe my cane  
kisses could be his, every  
passing breath could be his, every  
leering pair of eyes could be his, every night would
stalk me with his phantom, and such nights would  
consume all my days.  

“Excessive Force” appeared previously in Aunt Chloe.

John Lee Clark was born deaf and became blind in adolescence. His chapbook of poems is “Suddenly Slow” (Handtype Press, 2008) and he edited the anthology Deaf American Poetry (Gallaudet University Press, 2009). His work has appeared in many publications, including The Chronicle of Higher Education, McSweeney's, and Poetry. Clark lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, with his wife and three sons.

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