Breath & Shadow

A Journal of Disability Culture and Literature

Winter 2014

Volume 11 Issue 1



Breath and Shadow
Winter 2014
Volume 11, Number 1

Medicated Youth
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. Then came
the incantation, chanted over loaded
stainless steel care-carried ounces –

“One spoony-spoony,
Two spoony-spoonies,
Three spoony-spoonies…”

Saccharine, smile-spoken words like that sweet air
sound before a hammer blow to a nail head.
My gullet burned bitter as rivulets
of the unkind fluid coursed downward, inward,
ensuring no seizure would pay us an unfriendly visit.

                                                Everyday episodes of epileptic
                                                childhood measured in
                                                of neurological Castor Oil –
                                                An AM/PM ritual reminder
                                                that stuck in our
family’s throat.

Lingua Epilepticus
By John Davis Jr.

The tongue is a flame…no man can control.
                                    -- James 3:6, 8(a)

Because it got in the way,
the tongue was always the worst part.

I’d gnaw it bloody raw, swollen
during those night seizures.

Tooth-sized, spit-filled wound holes
made village idiot speech:

Guttural utterance thick
with liquid breath and rattle.

Cured by time and ice,
my punctured, heart-rigid muscle,

bit and rudder healed could tell
again its clear and eloquent curses.

John Davis Jr. is a Florida poet whose work has been published internationally. His poems have recently appeared in Deep South magazine, Saw Palm, Touch: The Journal of Healing, and other fine journals. He is also completing his MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Tampa.

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