Breath & Shadow
Fall 2019 - Vol. 16, Issue 4
"You Ask Me Why I Wear Bright Colors"
Pain is vivid--
the vibrant teal and fuchsia of veins.
The crimson gush of persimmon
down the chin or forearm, the golden puss
as a scab bubbles the skin inside out,
the snap of bone that scintillates
in kaleidoscopic fractals behind the eyes…
"The Ghost Who Loved Me"
Susan M. Silver
Have you ever missed someone long departed, one you have never even met?
If it had hardly been a winter of deep discontent, neither had it been a time of unreserved joy. Cold-weather confinement had lent itself to excess contemplation—of the flaccid-cheeked Facebook image of a once-beautiful ex-beau or the absurdly glorifying obit of another, finally lost to drugs.
So abandoning the talking heads on cable news was a sweet spring bon-bon. I always find myself nurtured by walking familiar Manhattan streets while disguised in my mind as a stranger. Now I was among the warring elements of late March in the city.
"Forecast: A Downpour of Your Pushback"
Roy A. Barnes
The skies are gray
as rain pours from you, too --
reflecting what I feel inside
I feel your presence -- a place
where we have shared so long, but you have
drifted away for good
even as you sit still…
"The Ghosts Who Carry Us"
My mom took the seat closest to the door. I studied the auditorium, which dipped downward. Each table was positioned to face the podium below.
I saw Marshall Rancifer, former member of the Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition, sitting at the opposite end of our table with a plate of three slices of pepperoni pizza in front of him. I sat on one of the chairs and rolled over to him. “Do you need some help setting up your table?”
"A Dog’s Breath"
A hectic day
aRetreat into four walls of sanctuary
The effort of presentation
of professionalism, of being evaluated
And On the lowest rung
Burned like a premeditative strike…
Grandmother Firebird should be back by now. She shed her last feather, erupted into a blossom of flame, and fell to ash three nights ago. Her next egg had reformed from the ashes by morning. But this is the longest it has ever taken her to come back.
The surface of her egg is chilly. I ask Mum if we should swaddle it or something. Mum doesn't know, and she doesn't have time for my questions.
"What William Had To Do"
William listens from the back seat
His parents in their usual he drives she’s passive order of things
Father launches ‘I don’t know what you go through
When you go through with these attempts
All I’m saying is if you’re genuine about
Getting to the end of it all
You should really do a proper job, next time I mean…
"At Age 18 Weighing 83 lbs"
the oldest patient in the children’s wing I see a bald boy with baby
teeth holding a cue stick taller than he might ever
be he’s alone except for quiet laughter the popping
fireworks of plastic hitting plastic and his father standing nearby
smiling (but that doesn’t mean the dad doesn’t ask himself
constantly Did this happen because of me?)
"The Endless Drudgery of Being Alive"
Got up.. and didn’t get up
Thought about getting up for a long time, but had no reason to get up
Thought about masturbating, but decided not to
Rolled over and clenched weighted hand grips
Put on podcast so didn’t notice what was happening
Went downstairs and brushed teeth, teeth have become damaged even without drug addiction
Spoke to Mum about something- can’t remember what happened for a long time…
"Drown" and "Create"
Twist yourself into little
Pretzel circles and
Dunk your head under the sea
Breathe deep the salty goodness
Until your tongue swells
And drown for me...
We met in grad school. Ms introduced herself one humid spring morning. Though she’d
been around for five years or more, she wasn’t remotely familiar. She came out of
nowhere, but every time I looked around there she was. An electrical shock. I couldn’t
shake her. My very own neurological stalker. Sitting in class, there she was. Driving the
car, there she was. Even at mealtimes. She seemed to possess me, right down to my
fingers and toes.