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Breath & Shadow

Summer 2022 - Vol. 19, Issue 3

"2020: The Year Gluten and Covid Became My Enemies"

Written By

Eleni Stephanides

In early 2020, COVID became the world’s enemy. In September 2020, gluten became mine.

Californians woke up to the surprise of an orange-tinted sky on September 7, 2020. That morning I awoke with a ringing in my ears as usual, and a fogginess in my head.  Usually the sounds of nature and wildlife filled the air outside my window, but that day eerie silence replaced the singing of birds and the scuttling footsteps of squirrels against my rooftop. All I could hear was the sound of BART in the distance, whooshing past every twenty minutes like ghosts on high-power electric rollerblades.


Written By

Christian Ward

I am squatting on the riverbank, watching

you fish for rainbow trout. Six years old.

Handling the line like a violinist, you pluck

away with each vibration, picturing the surface

of the water as a composition unraveling


Written By

Megan Denese Mealor

I have grown a little eccentric,

a little discontent, I suppose,

since I moved my corner rocking chair

to the very center of the den

near the growling, grinning heater

to cover the carpet’s balding bald spot

and began turning the volume to heaven

"I Take This to The Grave"

Written By

Emily Kurc

i had never seen a ghost

until my body became a

graveyard and now i am

one of them.

"Ida and Richard Forever"

Written By

Renee Cronley

Not that long ago, I could reflect on good memories to reset my mood.  I could flip through them, like pages of a beloved story, to remind myself of the wonderful life I have and how I got here.  But it’s hard to focus on the good when I know Richard is finding missing words and blank pages.  Time seems to be pulling him forward with one hand and erasing his past with the other.  So I live in a state of grief that acts as a vice on my heart that squeezes with just enough pressure to be constant pain.

"Kerfuffle: A Novel That Speaks Spoof to Power"

Written By

Reviewed by Denise Noe

The 2012 G20 summit protests were a series of events in Toronto, Canada in which people demonstrated for varied causes including anti-globalization, anti-poverty, pro-environment protection, and pro-gay rights. Most protests were peaceful but there was also a riot that included the vandalism of several businesses.

Luckily, no one was killed, although over 20,000 Canadian police officers and military and security personnel were deployed and several people were injured with over 1,000 arrests being made.

"Lost in Space"

Written By

Ginger Gannaway

“Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!” yelled a third grader as she got into the robot’s part, waving her arms around like a drunk scarecrow. Viv walked stiffly toward Rebecca who had nabbed the prime role of Penny Robinson. She jerked her head back and forth and let out,“Beep! Boop! Ding!” in the way an alien would do to threaten the Robinson family. Viv/Alien followed the retreating kids and raised her uneven arms over her head to seem scarier.

"My Love Is Pure" and "Space Junk"

Written By

Virginia Betts

She has sapphire magpie wings

falling in sheets of silk;

pale as death and fragile

as a cloud dissolved in mist.

She is amber wind,

spins hypnotic whirling dance,

black as a raven in her soul

and silver-lined like heaven’s walls.

"My MS Journey: Recalculating"

Written By

Judith Krum

Some people say that to tell a story well, one should start at the beginning.  I have decided to begin with the turning point.  I’d been forced to recalculate many times in my life before being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, but MS took recalculation to new levels, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

It was first the heat I experienced in England at Kew Gardens when all I could do was drag myself around from bench to bench. And then, after I had been home for a few months, I woke up one morning in 1986 and was blind.  All I knew was that I could only see one tiny peep hole through a curtain of black. I had to move the scene or the reading material or the tv show or the person’s face if I wanted to see even a tiny, tiny bit of it in that one miniscule peep hole, the size of a mustard seed.  I was scared; I was horrified and desperate.


Written By

Paula Hammond

Mother Nature paints with air, and sea, and stone. Her elemental art is all around us, but never is it more beautiful than at dawn. Then, each piece of creation—bathed in the dazzle of the new day—is at its most glorious.

This morning, chill air hugs the ground. Mist echoes lie, layer on layer, like curtains of Baroque taffeta. Beneath it, the world is as soft and smudgy as a wax rubbing.

I hop from foot to foot, trying to shake off the morning’s foggy fingers but—no use. They cling to me, drenching my feathery beard with icy droplets that make me look ridiculous.


Written By

Anastasia Jill

She carries a bucket, a home for a tune,

places flowers on her tongue,

peppered music note-grey.

This is her one passage: large nose to throat,

a paradigm of shame for an unimpressive dame.

She attempts to prosper, probing a posey garden,

but she is still small, a flimsy ribbon holding up

a baby bouquet…

"Reverential Notes from a Late Summer in Socorro, New Mexico, 1945"

Written By

Nick Hilbourn

I remember purple lightning staining the sky.  The strange clarity of the night.  A lavender caul enshrouding the neighborhood houses.  Streets as if underwater.  Grasses calcifying in violet tones.  The light had lost its shape and its colors were spread throughout the atmosphere.  I remember burgundy, maroon and an ocher eye desperately peeking through.  And I remember that the air as sultry and wet.  Which was fine.  It was New Mexico, yes, but we’d accepted recent inconsistencies in the climate.  Weather was just another organism prowling the desert.  There were others.

"Shopping Hell"

Written By

Judy Lunsford

We enter the store and I take a deep breath to keep myself from getting stressed out.

The flickering of the fluorescent lights overhead immediately starts throwing off my balance.

Charlie leans his furry body against me to show me that he knows that I need him already. He lets me know he’s there for me.

The sounds are overwhelming. Voices everywhere, the beeping of the registers, the loud rushing of air and hum from the AC units, there's beeping coming from an oven timer over in the bakery section. Music drones on overhead. I can’t tell what song it is because there is too much other noise. My ears can’t decipher one sound from the next anymore. In a rush, my hearing goes to a point of uselessness.

"Suicidality: Neither Solution nor Sin"

Written By

Lindsey Morrison Grant

Unlike many, when I learned of the presumed self-orchestrated demise of Former Miss USA Cheslie Kryst, I was not shocked. According to a January 31, 2022 New York Times article, the 30 year old had earned both an MBA and law degree. She took a hiatus from the law office for which she worked to pursue the pageant title and, later, work as a correspondent for the entertainment program, “EXTRA.”

In an essay published by Allure magazine last year, Ms. Kryst reflected on the challenges of growing older and challenging conventional thinking about women’s appearances and opinions.

“A grinning, crinkly-eyed glance at my achievements thus far makes me giddy about laying the groundwork for more but turning 30 feels like a cold reminder that I’m running out of time to matter in society’s eyes — and it’s infuriating,” she wrote.


Written By

Shannon Connor Winward

The lobby door slid open with another gust of wind. Flyers flapped like wings. A garland of children's hands fluttered from the archway.

Mora re-checked the time. Oh, for... They were two minutes late, though she'd done nothing but stand there with an armful of purple coat, waiting for two o'clock.

She turned to find Amber already returned from the hunt.

"Mom. They have the new Parker's Place so I grabbed it. And a flower book, and one about drawing cats. Also—"

"Weeds" and "Empty"

Written By

Sharmon Gazaway

Roots white as cabbage veins

outlandish and barefoot

they cling to their staked-out

turf. Squatters   they’ve dug in tent pegs

deep   put on a show

of ratty flowers like Boho skirts

in an attempt to charm or disarm

you—they plan to stay.

New On the Bookshelf

Written By

Breath & Shadow

We have several new releases from Breath and Shadow contributors to tell you about.

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