Breath & Shadow
Volume 16, Issue 1
"Able-Bodied Pieces of Shit"
I often catch myself saying I’m lucky. I’m lucky compared to other people with
disabilities. I’m lucky my disability isn’t that noticeable. I’m lucky I can walk, even though
it took me 2 and a half years to learn. I’m lucky that I don’t get made fun of on a daily
basis for how I walk or hold my left hand. I often compare myself to others with a
disability and say I’m lucky I don’t have it as bad as them. But as I’ve grown up and
become more familiar with disability rhetoric and the community surrounding something
I’ve dealt with my whole life, I’ve realized I don’t need to say that.
She supposed this was an appropriate ending.
In fact, she could say she was expecting this to happen from the start. Though, a small
part of her, the hopeful and delusional side really, wanted to believe otherwise. She was
watching Glas by Bert Haanstra with only half a mind to take in words floating against
the wave of smooth jazz. Or, at the very least, what she assumed to be smooth jazz.
She kept her breathing even and nodded silently to the woman sitting next to her. It was
fitting that Rose would end things with her since she was the one who started what they
"In Sorrow Brought Forth" and "A Childhood"
Child, you are a mountain at my breast.
Your fist balls over my heart. You won’t latch.
I’m stitched up below, head a dimmed bulb,
drowsy in thick, mineral air.
"Living, As They Do, At the Bottom of The Sea"
They are a people who weave baskets, living, as they do, at the bottom of the sea. Tiny
creatures of light, miniature suns living within the scraps of some lost universe, some
wandering place that found its way here.
Surrounded, as they are, by bubbles of spacetime that refuse to fuse with our universe,
close as a breath and distant as the stars, they seem not to know that they are lost, that
they should not be here, living, as they do, at the bottom of the sea. We tried for
decades to make contact, to tell them, “You see, you should not live at the bottom of the
"November Rosebud" and "The Unending Sting"
Like a Hiroshima baby
born on the brink of thorns,
in blind and blissful beauty
you wait for fate to fall
from the cruelest
of cloudless skies.
"On the Life of Drones"
When I step up onto the deck, he catches my eye. In the center of one of the sliding
glass doors, there is a large buttery yellow and brown bee. I’ve just returned from an
early spring walk under the bright sunshine through the air is still crisp—curiously cool
for a bee to be flying around. I look up and see another, then another, and soon scores
of them descend around me from the thinner air above.
Stepping back to gain perspective on their intended destination, I edge closer to the
patio table with its chairs still vinyl covered against the winter frost. The honey bees
swarm near the guttered roof and soon, one by one, begin to land silently on the table.
As I watch them, I get it, the connection, between these honeybee drones and the
secret miniature spy planes that sneak through the air quietly photographing enemies
and friendlies alike. Each of the living drones in my yard methodically hovers over the
table with his 4 legs outstretched then carefully lands and tiptoes onto the cold metal
"Ride with The Heroes"
Kenna Mary McKinnon
If you ride with the Marlboro Man like Bogie and the Duke, over and after the soft, sweet
music of their films you may die like a hero, yellow, sick, bold, and daring, as they did.
But it was never my intention to die, nor to watch a loved one die. And my son did not
smoke. I want to reiterate that. Steve Wild did not smoke, and he died of a virulent
aggressive esophageal cancer that spread to his lungs and every organ in his body
except – miraculously – his brain.
"Some Thoughts on Trigger Warnings"
Breath and Shadow publishes sensitive material that might trigger traumatic feelings
and/or memories in individuals suffering from PTSD. For this reason, Abilitymaine, our
sponsor, has decided to start including content trigger warnings on potentially upsetting
pieces. Chris Kuell, editor in chief of Breath and Shadow, shares his thoughts on the
"Vajas Kenyer" and "With"
Someone else’s death is present
in a room of glass jars, soft reflections
on curved surfaces, cement underfoot,
flat and grey as faded history.
It’s a room of absences
that I remember but can’t enter
because someone bought my grandparents’ house
Nessma A. Elssawy
The quiet waves outside my window seem more marvelous than usual tonight.
Like a beautiful stranger, approaching after a long night of self-absorbance and
From my skin to my shoes, I'm made of nature, yet I've failed to become one with it.
Something keeps pushing me away, like the current that won't let me touch this bed of
I went to the Dickens Museum because I’m an orphan all grown up, who once felt as
wretched as Oliver Twist. I went because, looking back, the eighties were the best of
times for so many, floating along in the world, when I’d sunk like a stone to the bottom
of things. I went to learn about the man who had somehow known so much about me.
I hadn’t planned on stealing someone’s seven-year-old.