Breath & Shadow
Volume 10, Issue 2
Benghazi at dawn
a peaceful dream...
Jennifer Ruth Jackson
Your touch stark, electric
A million bells and whistles
Strong hands caressing me
Defibrillator paddles bouncing
My body to life...
"Elegy for James Eagan Holmes"
Look at you, Television Monkey, with your Vicodin jive and orange hair, shocking as Bukowski is shocking-violence is cool, fast, and mildly tragic; Less than two weeks of fame-one day for each soul-they are calling you Bozo in the bars as they eat their peanuts and pretzels. Downstairs, my dad has been watching TV for hours, every few minutes slurring words of misguided hate, "JUST KILL THA FUCKER AWREADY!" Don't mind him; another member of the Middle American lynch mob. He's drunk. Aurora was always in you, lurking; Freud’s greasy cocaine fingers would have a field day poking around there, stroking fragments of gray matter, Id, Ego, Super-ego; how many psychologists sofas have you sat on in the past year, trembling like a trapped animal, sure your plans would be discovered by the probe? Forget it. You don’t have to answer that.
"Into A Memory"
When I was little, I did not wander as a cloud. I floated on one. I have to admit, when the assignment was given to us to write about a poem, I did not think I would find one that would capture my interest or memory. For days, my ears would burn the table of contents as my fingers struck down page numbers in a hopeless search to find something that I could connect with, for something that I could write about and have it be genuine. I was lost and my hopes for finding a poem that would hold my interest long enough to allow me to write about it seemed an impossible reach. I was a bibliophile at heart, but I did not like writing about poetry. I enjoyed reading it, but writing about it was a different kind of circle of hell. On my fifth haphazard hunt through the table of contents, my ears caught something I had not noticed before. I was instantly drawn because it sounded familiar, “I wandered lonely as a cloud,” by William Wordsworth. I wanted to see why the poem sounded familiar. I had an odd sense that it would be significant to my life, but I did not know why or how. I wanted to explore the kind of emotional journey that this poem would take me through, and so I did.
"My Hair Dresser Stole My Mojo"
The whisk of the scissors drops chunks of hair to the floor. My mind races for a possible do-over. Can you glue hair back on? I can’t look at myself in the mirror or meet Melissa’s eyes. I don’t want her to see my regret.
This is happening because of a question asked of me in a hot tub, the place where many thought provoking conversations begin.
“Who are you?” My brother-in-law asks. “I’ve known you for fifteen years and I still don’t have a clue.”
"One More Needle In The Haystack"
W. R. Hilary
You keep your eyes on the tarmac. You must always be silent. You must never cry. You must be brave when they catch you and pull both of your legs so that the sharp branch cuts through the black fabric of your uniform and reddens the flesh of your thighs. You mustn't shriek then and you should never blush. Keep your head down. Write neat sentences in your school book and pay attention. For God’s sake don’t talk. Don’t fight. Don’t get in trouble. Don’t get sent outside. Don't get noticed. Why are you always getting sent outside? Why are you always getting noticed? Why are you always in the hallway, standing in that blue plaid coat with your face pressed against the dirty glass of the door so that they can all see you while the teacher speaks? Throw that damn coat away and wear the one she gave you. I don’t care that it smells like her. Wear it for your own sake.
“Any chance I could jump ahead and pay for these smokes real fast?”
The guy in front of me had a cartful of groceries and I thought, “just one pack of cigarettes — he won’t mind.”
But when he said, “Not in this checkout line,” I blinked at his unsmiling face and almost said, “you prick,” but I heard a few jungle noises and thought, “uh-oh,” not good.
I know they first found you in–FUCK–France, in days when asylums were warehouses, narcotics were medicines, and quacks created concoctions to cure the ill. Lead into gold, inspired by tales of Midas and men, mediocre medicine made by surgeons who sought money. And like mice, they made feasts of open corpses during surgery, and broke their bread with bile, to tinker with the innards of organs they knew little about, like modern children dissecting cats killed for the classroom.
"Travels of Lip Balm"
The drier door opens and I fall out
after traveling the drum.
Unopened, my essence stays with me
instead of covering clothes with which I journey.
He picks me up, his daughter will want this.
He returns to folding clothes...
My limbs heavy like magnets
attracted to the earth’s core
My arms like granite—
My back, a twig,