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Breath & Shadow

Fall 2008 - Vol. 5, Issue 4

"A Trio of Poems"

written by

Rachael Z. Ikins

"Boy From Outer Space"


Bounce off gym walls

With kickballs

You see that kid?

With tissue-paper skin

And black eyes Surprised!

In the whiteness of his face?

Children sneaker-slap

Floor clap

By me. . .

He crouches

On the sideline near the boys'


Whispering to his fingers

He wears blue moon-boots

(feet from outer space)

Tears lake his eyes

As I speak to him

Answered only

By my own reflection

Sky-high and empty

A cloudless August




"Working Horse"


Big sorrel Belgian,

last stall on the right.

Buzz-cut blonde mane,

forever he runs away

inside his head. Rescued from

a farmer who used him

without the care lavished

on a rusty old tractor.

He bites his own fore-leg, groans,

collapses back into the hay rack,

wrinkles his long soft lips, terror's

grotesque smile when we come close.

Ghost-hands raise the lash, the whip, the knife

Behind his eyes. Baby, baby, Gideon.

Not all hands are fisted! Tears tell him

This. They paint my cheeks.

Look (look softly) only a brush,

or a sweet oatmeal cookie: sometimes,

tremble-fingers reach more terrified than he.

I sit here, cloaked in velvet insomniac darkness

and surreal green screen-light. I imagine him asleep

right now, this just-past-midnight moment,

one back foot cocked that way horses do,

his left side where his hip is scarred and the hoof broken

off, head drooping, ears flutter, eyes closed

I wonder what he dreams about.



"Borderline Young Woman Waits For Her Therapist; The Building"


Waiting I become

immobile, flattened

against the gravity of this wall,

pale, peach colored girl-pores

absorbed by porous peach-pale


My toe-prints' whorls are sucked

through my socks and shoes to spiral into

the carpet-- optical illusion.

I blend. I bend to the chair's curve.

Sighs of air rushing in ceiling-high vents

respire to my rhythm. A far-off radiator hammers

keeping cadence with my heart.

Voices channeled between hollow walls,

the halls, and cardboard doors

travel along my ear canals.

Doors click and slam,

clack shut, hiss open; keys jingle

(the bumble of the elevator)

spontaneously evoke muscle tics,

twitch my body parts.

A cough rumbles from my chest.

Outside wild-wind soughs and exhales.

Overhead, huge, gasping breaths

extinguish lights (life)

I am no longer.

We are darkness

disarticulate. Me,

just a shadow smudged

on your wall.

Rachael Z. Ikins was born and raised in New York's Fingerlakes region. She began writing poetry at age 14, and practicing photography 1984. She lives with, around, and through her disability since the 70s. From 2003 on she has won 8 poetry, juried into art shows, and founded a poetry group in Hamilton, NY. Her first chapbook was recently accepted for publication. She lives in the country with her partner and their many animals.

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