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Breath & Shadow

Fall 2015 - Vol. 12, Issue 4

"Part-Time Sclerotic Destruction"

written by

Kate Holly-Clark

The day my doctor said

"we'll fight through this thing with you"

I stared at her

like she had lost her

last marble

because really,

I could not picture

her in gambeson and maille

by ll bean,

Falchion by vera wang--

I already felt

like I'd started

the stupid world war doughboy slog

trenches dug

across my flesh

barbed wire unspooled

down my spine

the communications lines

had already been cut

by the time it left

my brain

the munitions teams had been and gone, hours ago-- leaving jagged and sparking telegraph lines the spinal tap jerking my leg like an electrocuted frog--


You can't even see the

enemy from here,

I wanted to yell.

It's already gone to ground

in the genome,

popping out to gnaw

randomly on another nerve sheath

running back into hiding.


I'm left with a semaphore system

of boyscouts and drunks,

I wanted to tell her

they're not very good

even if they usually get the general idea--


"Was that...foot?"

"Why would she swallow a foot,

you worthless maggot, that's


too late

NO, COUGH is not spelled



Really, I already knew this one was going to be a war of attrition despising the idiot who decided to call an incurable autoimmune disease a fight--


what happens if you die?

you didn't fight hard enough? Victim of poor tactics?

Weak defense? Not enough M-16's?


I nod like a good patient

can't risk the label of

noncompliant--like any POW, I already know what NOT to say "right", I say.

"We'll fight this thing."


and hope that I've hid the

most important wires deep enough

from guerrilla saboteurs

Kate Holly-Clark is disabled, an artist and poet living in NH with two cats, a dog, and her husband in a 125-year-old farmhouse.

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