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Breath & Shadow

Fall 2019 - Vol. 16, Issue 4

New On The Bookshelf

Written By

Ability Maine

Click here to read blurbs about recently published books from our contributors!

"You Ask Me Why I Wear Bright Colors"

Written By

Jennifer Bradpiece

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"

Written By

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"

Written By

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"

Written By

Elizabeth Devine

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"

Written By

Ann Chiappetta

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"

Written By

Dawn Vogel

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"

Written By

Keith Nunes

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"

Written By

Casey Cromwell

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"

Written By

B. Lawrence

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

Eyes tired

Made pancakes 

Spoke to Mum about something- can’t remember what happened for a long time…

"Drown" and "Create"

Written By

Elizabeth Devine

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...

"Masquerading Stranger"

Written By

Karen Craig

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.

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