Breath & Shadow
Volume 18, Issue 3
"A Song of Quartz and Queens"
High upon the hills, a queen lay in wait. As she sat on her footstool atop the balcony, gazing upon the stars that gleamed above, she knew her quiet peace couldn’t last. Her private bubble of solitude beneath the heavens was to pop, for another must enter. She couldn’t live her life alone.
Beneath the trees, a young man sat cloaked in dust. To him, the night was a moment to breathe. A whiff of fresh air. A chilling wind bound him to the ground. Morning was soon to arise.
"A Thousand Alarming Presentiments of Evil"
Farah Rose Smith
Caecilius of Eußerthal Abbey (c. 1019-c.1053) was a Cistercian monk who entered the convent of Eußerthal at the young age of fourteen with prodigious knowledge of Christian doctrine that exceeded the perceived limitations of his age. He began writing sermons at the age of nine, after the death of his mother in a mysterious fire, a woman of faith who was purported to have prophetic dreams of the Lord God before the coming of her perilous fate. His extensive writings, the original manuscripts of which may be examined under glass at the Cistercian preservation library in Düsseldorf, span from his interpretations of Christian doctrine to alternative, and sometimes blasphemous, interpretations of the lives of Saints. These blasphemes, along with nine volumes of recorded accounts of deviltry, apparitions, and witchcraft in the Südliche Weinstraße, alongside accusations of usury and carnality, resulted in his expulsion from the monastery by Abbot Varinius. Despite the attempts of Caecilius to tell these stories through exemplums and repair his reputation, the Abbot saw his presence as having no value in terms of the moral edification of the people, and rather as causing a quickening gash in the stability of the district’s faith amid his pronouncements. Caecilius died not long after his expulsion at the age of 34 in a land dispute of unknown origin. Included here are selected chapters in translation of his final book of exemplums entitled “A Thousand Alarming Presentiments of Evil”, an exhaustive tome originally written in both Latin and Old High German, documenting the concerning supernatural events of the region during his lifetime.
I look like the average Jane. My friends all call me quirky. I am normal passing, among strangers. Most of the time. You have noticed my difference when I tell stories or recount what I will eat yesterday.
Is time the same for all of us? I can’t tell. I know the three realities: Future, Present, and Past. Yet the tenses slip in my mind, twist around, invert. What happens yesterday will happen, will it not? What goes on tomorrow, happened. This is how time looks to me.
Can my life be flattened
into a book
the memorable moments
high contrast black and white
not just scraped knees, a nosebleed
passing bullies whose taunts helped bind me
with more than skin?
"Christmas 2020" and "In the Caribbean"
Sergio A. Ortiz
Four years of jerking myself awake, jarred dizziness, tears and very few friends, the Bronx doesn't need you. Stay, I'll fly in Doña Felisa's ghost with a cargo of snow wraiths.
"Don’t Listen to Me"
Don’t listen to me
As the words roll
Out of my toddler’s mouth.
As each verbalization
By my pudgy fingers’ dancing -
I never could dance
Never could keep a beat.
If it is not something I can feel, it is not something I can hear.
Stella Peg Carruthers
I am told at every bus stop that I should go there. Move there. Be a student of The Garden City with its broken chapels and river running through it like a lascivious tongue. I’m told I can be a ‘Justice Warrior’ or a ‘Global Citizen.’ That my accommodation might even be paid for and that yes, it’s the next best thing to Ivy League in Aotearoa - the pictures say so, with their glistening images of brick and blossoms.
And I want it. Desperately. I do not need to be told of its attractions as a place of flowers and lazy river rides or that the campus is the most beautiful in the country. I want it already. I wanted it before the posters were put up and the t-shirts emblazoned with red words and curvilinear logos were donned.
"Lost and Found"
I lost my teaching career. Teaching was more than my job; it was my passion. My identity. However, the pain and fatigue from my autoimmune disease (Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease) made it necessary for me to “retire due to a disability.”
I found my second career, as a writer. Since I was no longer teaching full-time, I could write full-time. Personal essays I submit to literary journals and anthologies. Blog posts for my personal website.
Assignments as a regularly contributing writer for a popular family-oriented website (MomsLA.com).
Gathering for their 100th reunion
Of the last class from the Braille school
students returned in marvelous ways.
Some graduates returned from the stars
Riding beams of multicolored lights.
"The Medical MonSter"
I wonder if I never smoked marijuana, would I have felt the wrath of MS? Yes, of course, I was just having a personal pity moment and thought I would try to find all the reasons, excuses and what ifs I could to justify the illness that constantly tries to take over my life.
Funny, but with the latest information on different forms of multiple sclerosis, marijuana is being debated as another means of treatment. Go figure. Being stoned during most of my aging process was a good mask after all.
The events leading up to a Tsunami begin with an Earthquake, a shaking, a shift in the Earth’s tectonic plates, the ground shifting under our feet, what we believe to be solid shifting beneath us. My father’s illness also began with a trembling, a literal shaking, but I failed to predict the tidal wave due to follow.
"Westminster Bridge 2020"
Returning to the scene today at dawn,
I wonder that this view deserved a sonnet.
For suddenly I stand, watching an unfamiliar horizon;
the sun’s ruby-tainted orb struggling into sight,
wrapped as in a bloody shroud.
No majesty in these clouds which herald her appearance
like fallen angels clothed in stained white.