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Breath & Shadow

Spring 2009 - Vol. 6, Issue 2

"Smoking" and "Before the Coffin"

written by

Jeanette Beal



A pot on the burner

you forgot about and left

on medium heat

simmering still not boiling

is less dangerous

than the boiling kettle

whistling through the hallways

of a bad dream -

Still you breathe in and wait

sirens careening

and a hose jammed through your front door

frantic assistance

and covetous smiles

you haven't slept like this

in years.



"Before the Coffin"


Do you remember?

One time matter.

Her face stares at me through fog

misty memory,

while he recounts years of brotherly torment

of sibling rivalry and feeling something,

we eat silently

one lettuce leaf, one round tomato

my lips part unsmiling to receive,

stomach unsettling. It's not me.

We're nodding and pretending

and slowly pain trickles onto napkins

folded carefully at the end of the meal

not discussing present reality

what could have been, what will be -

she's not here to object

still the questions I want to ask are taboo

in this the evening reckoning

our last supper.

Jeanette is an unrepentantly fat, blind, first-generation American. A poor, hyper-educated, queer cyborg--and not unpleased about it. Her works can be found at,, and here at Breath and Shadow! She is a co-editor at Breath and Shadow and co/moderates several disability-related communities on livejournal. She also published *Restricted Zine: voices on sexuality and disability* in 2005.

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