Our Story

Experience zigzags, leaps, regresses then spurts forward, tosses frays delays surprises. Narrative revisits manifestation in countless iterations recounted since the Big Bang. Machinations of living breathing striving to make meaning from days and nights of existence. Morning provides for itself. Breathe Free Press is a place for the essay in every imaginable, inventive form, cross-genre—flash—critical—experimental—travel…

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ISSUE FOUR – 2018

TABLE of CONTENTS: The Heart of Poetry by Ai Aida – perdido en las luces by Brendan Connolly – In The Middle: On Crots, Markson, Writing & Wine by DS Levy – The Words We Carry: A History by Stephanie Vessely – Sherman Alexie and Me by Melanie Nolan – Alternative Constellations by Julie Lunde…

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The Heart of Poetry by Ai Aida

All words represent things only when there is a perceiver. Put another way; they are nothing until the perceiver shows up to decode and render their meanings. But even then, after the advent of the conscious mind, words are still forever empty. “I” for example, is devoid of content not only because it’s a pronoun…

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perdido en las luces by Brendan Connolly

this should be more, a more lambent exomologesis of madrid. but this is not complete. if it were the words would be wet to the touch. there would be noise and movement, lights between the letters humming softly. you would smell soapy water on cobblestones in the gaining morning while standing in front of large…

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In The Middle: On Crots, Markson, Writing & Wine by DS Levy

“Writer is pretty much tempted to quit writing. Writer is weary unto death of making up stories.” So begins David Markson’s This is Not a Novel (Counterpoint Press, 2001). This anti-novel wastes no time with background, exposition, or scene-setting, but rather notes down individual statements of fact about well-known writers, musicians, and artists. Markson locates these…

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The Words We Carry by Stephanie Vessely

The Vessely family, like many families, had its own language, its own meanings for things. Words had their own definitions like sex, which meant bad or shame or forbidden or wrong unless it was between a man and his wife. Then it meant beautiful or love or sacred or holy. Other words didn’t make themselves…

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Sherman Alexie and Me by Melanie Nolan

“If one reads enough books one has a fighting chance. Or better, one’s chances of survival increase with each book one read.” I have always been comforted by the written word. It would be dishonest to say that Sherman Alexie alone got me through that terrible, awful thing. His voice was among of chorus of authors and…

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Alternative Constellations by Julie Lunde

The Astronomical Woman . . . is planetary and huge, looming large, with as many moons as fingers, or stars. Every day she crafts a careful chignon, twisted in on itself like an ampersand, leaking bobby pins. From behind she is always saying yes, and? Orion’s Belt . . . must be heavy on his hips, I think, to carry…

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A Brain-Dead Body by Jessica Granger

This small segment of my story is for you, the no one, the nobody, the man, the brother, the father, I was unable to save today. You came in nameless, without a history, or a life. If only I had the chance to speak to you before consciousness slipped away from us as the blood,…

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The Pregnant Afternoon by Luke Buffini

This afternoon is a premonition. It is a vision of the dark, magnificent story about to be told of an evening and a night. I will watch it through this office window. Slowly inexorably, the furniture of afternoon will loosen to release its grip on me, floating upwards then dropping into the black ocean of…

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FIRST YEAR ANNIVERSARY ISSUE – 2018

Table of Contents: SIZE by RUTH DANDREA – THINGS YOU TAUGHT ME: by CATHY COOK – RAINY DAYS AND MONDAY AND EVERYTHING ELSE by RACHEL A.G. GILMAN – IT WAS DILLARD’S by ED TATO – PERSPECTIVES ON LOVING by JERRICE J. BAPTISTE – NATIVE MAGIC by CASSONDRA WINDWALKER – FEAR. NOT. by DEBORAH HANSEN –…

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SIZE by RUTH DANDREA

Size Imagine that this essay is a fat lady not obese or enormous but full-breasted and pleasingly plump, curves of flesh every where—zaftig, is the word. Think Reubens. Picture hips wide tummy ringed by a roll or two of pulp-filled skin full-figured an earth mother body meant for babies. Thighs          …

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THINGS YOU TAUGHT ME: by CATHY COOK

The importance of tipping baristas. The work of steam and coffee beans. The grind of grinding, of compacting the grounds, the way you did at home with the cinnamon container, one of three cinnamon containers because when we moved in together with Sean, we all came with our own cinnamon, but none of us with…

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TALLY MY LOVE: A REALITY FICTION by ALEXIA SERETI

On Sunday night, Dylan traces a finger along the tattoo on my left shoulder, leans forward, and kisses it softly. . On Monday morning, he tells me that this girl he’s been casually seeing asked to be exclusive. . I cover my tattoo. . On Monday night, a man I meet outside a bar rolls…

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IT WAS DILLARD’S by ED TATO

It was Dillard’s, I think, or maybe Macy’s, but that’s not important now. We only need to know we’re in the mall. It might help if we say the mall is somewhere in Rochester, though something else must come first. This is not the mall you’d expect to find, or maybe want to find, in…

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PERSPECTIVES ON LOVING by JERRICE J. BAPTISTE

Keeping the Mind and The Fruit Bowl Full I’m surrounded by coasters with inspirational messages. “Keep life simple! Enjoy the little things! Good things are going to happen!” It’s possible the mind is naturally attracted to positive messages, and buries negative experiences, like when my father begged grandmother to send me to meet him for…

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NATIVE MAGIC by CASSONDRA WINDWALKER

My body mocks me. Empty of life, it pretends at affirmation. I am lactating – ready to nourish, ready to sustain, but there is no child. The creature housed within me that spawned this farce is only a tumor. A grotesque malformation dancing in the guise of fertility has transformed this richest, most primal of…

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FEAR. NOT. by DEBORAH HANSEN

Life drains me merely from living it. My mind hovers over the idea of dying, a gossamer butterfly searching for nectar, then darts away to a more pleasing place. I have no disease, none but the ticking of the clock we try to mute with noise and movement, the clock that is counting us down…

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RUNNING WITH TONI MORRISON by HILLARY MOSES MOHAUPT

The first time I read Beloved I was rollerblading through the suburban Midwestern neighborhood not far from my childhood home, headphones cords flapping behind me as I careened downhill under a canopy of old growth trees. I was sixteen that summer, young enough still to face unknown territory but old enough to set my sights on the…

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THE BIRDS IS COMING by FRANCIS RAVEN

The Birds Is Coming already suggests poetry with its ungrammatical syntax. It suggests that these individuals have become a singularity; finally, something unified: a movie. But poetry is wrong; movies are wrong. Each bird is particular, suggests its own reasons. “It’s funny because my mom wasn’t allowed to see it because her mom said it would give…

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BY HER SIDE by GAIL PECK

We bring the outside in—the smell of lilacs fills the room. When my mother lies down to nap she pulls the cover to her chin, her dark hair across the pillow. This is how she sleeps after the wash is done. The ringer machine squeezes water out of everything. You must use both your hands,…

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A Shenandoah Quilt and My Boy, Running by Alex Checkovich

…see once again how that horizon, a vast valley-bulked background beckoning benevolent beyond the contoured swathe of derelict chain-link, foul pole to fowl pull, linear mosaic curvaceous as Walt Whitman himself, undulates its gentle broccoli-head mountains. Our drive out, as spectacular – spectacle, oracular – as ever, put me to awe. It’s a dusty Saturday in early July. A…

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ISSUE TWO-SUMMER 2017

Table of Contents: Lip by Cleo Aukland – Broken Wandering Scavenger by Rosemarie Dombrowski – O After O by Robert Vivian – Lacuna: Who We Leave Out and the Empty Spaces Where We Find Ourselves by Abby Pullen – The Daily Work of Caretaking and Witness–Part V by                     …

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LIP by Cleo Aukland

She’s looking at me from across the aisle. I can never tell how old they are, kids – seven, five? How do you tell the difference? All gap-toothed smiles and bouncing hair and unabashed gazes. This girl is particularly brazen, staring at me in full force while the train rocks back and forth, her eyes…

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O After O by Robert Vivian

O After O To know you have been written on years ago by someone else’s hand, someone else’s heart, to feel the words coming for me as one of their forlorn own, to hear the ink deep inside me stir and try to say, try to utter, oh, the most amazing and beautiful things, O…

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The Daily Work of Caretaking and Witness Part V. by Lena Ziegler

On the day I was born, I sprouted seed in a bed of magma, tore through bedrock and ascended, blistered, through the ocean floor, floated weightless to the top, and ambled into being. Years later, miles away, I was pushed through floorboards, unfurled through a spool of carpet fiber, and resurrected a pulsing wound, naming…

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A Didactic List of Ghosts by Joseph Reich

Ghosts come in many different shapes and forms when all that grieving and loss and guilt and conflict and maddening injustice is just way beyond our control and comprehension They come when it’s just too painful to go back reminiscing They come when they take over the identity They come in the form of long-lost visual…

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RECIPE: TO ANSWER A LINGERING QUESTION by Joshua Hun Baker

Serves: 2 plus1 uninvited guest Cook time: 8 days Ingredients: ½ cup of context – one naive suburban childhood sprinkle heavily with TV dinners One question crawling beneath the lid of the amygdala Full pint of small town political arguments delving into immigration and gun violence One handgun – caliber optional Medium sized hand-held mirror, shattered…

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Brian Turner’s Act of Habib by Mary Pacific Curtis

When a poet goes to war…. When a poet goes to war he has chosen immersion in the things of war, destruction, death, splintered families, unfamiliar landscapes, languages and customs.  The volunteer soldier has chosen, for reasons known only to him, the great incongruity of facing each day knowing that if a bullet doesn’t find…

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Breathe Free Press Inaugural Issue: Spring 2017

Table of Contents: A Study of the Blastulation of Purple by Tamlin Thomas – The Signs in 100 Words by Alaina Symanovich – Target by Anna Keeler – Syntax by Samuel Cole – Interview Under Caution by Nicole Yurcaba Dear – Dad, You Remind Me of Trump by Diane Payne – Your Words, Not His.…

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A STUDY OF THE BLASTULATION OF PURPLE by Tamlin Thomas

1. All people start out as a blastula. The root of blastula is Greek for to bud or to sprout. Some sprouts are green but humans begin at purple. Blastulation starts with the number two, but our cells expand at multiples of four until the molecules add up to human. All life is divisible by…

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THE SIGNS IN 100 WORDS by Alaina Symanovich

Aries, the pontificator Be hypocrisy.  Be the dark whispered from the roofs.  I tell you, my friends: kill.  You have no place to be merry.  God demanded your life, your body, your splendor—you!  Set your heart on worry, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you to the thief.  Be ready for…

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TARGET by Anna Keeler

My world was colored with odd numbers and sickled blood cells; for the life of me, I could never make it stop. The rest of me compartmentalized in maladaptive bones too lumpy for my arms and a brain produced milk for a lanky ovary. A brain that is repeatedly told that it is artistic, that…

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SYNTAX by Samuel Cole

As a boy, I listened carefully to my parents who talked openly in the kitchen about everything. I was rarely the topic of conversation: a face seated at the table; a vexation with a big appetite; a house pet who wore my father’s ski-slope nose and my mother’s bottom-heavy ass; a creaky fulcrum on which…

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INTERVIEW UNDER CAUTION by Nicole Yurcaba

In due course, we’d have caught you anyway. This time, you can’t snap another tear-stained selfie, can’t post it to Twitter bearing the hashtag#bitchyoudidthistome Arrested.Threatened with another trip to her Majesty’s prison—a six-month course:The Consequences of Violating One’s Police Information Notice. Do you scream the f-word?The investigation room is no place for you to Facebook-smear it followed…

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YOUR WORDS, NOT HIS by CHELSEY CLAMMER

He fucks you in second-person, pays for your objectivity. You are his editor, after all, and that’s what an editor is paid to do; be unbiased, attentive to the actual words. His words. Yet every “you,” sounds personal. How not to think they’re your holes he creatively fucks, are the things he wants to stuff…

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Dear Dad You Remind Me of Trump by Diane Payne

We all have skeletons in our closets. Hell, I’ve been dead nine years. Ain’t that enough? After years of being relatively free of you, I am sinking into a dark depression, a depression I didn’t know was possible. I never wanted to leave my daughter with you. Ever. And then one day you were on…

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A STRANGER IN MY HOME by Kira Rice-Christianson

I guess I should have known three months isn’t long enough to really know someone. It isn’t long enough to trust someone with the home between your thighs that you’ve kept safe and clean your whole life. But I let you in anyways. Every night, like clockwork. You would lay beside me, skin to skin,…

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