By Amy Ritchie Johnson


They had stopped taking phone calls or visitors. Mail piled up in the foyer unread.

John sat in the worn recliner in and out of slumber; when out, wondering where Nancy had gone off to. He laboriously lifted his arm toward the small hand bell placed on the table close to his chair. Having grasped it he shook his arm best he could and the bell shook also, ringing into the still house. No sign of Nancy. John tried replacing the bell but it landed into the crevice between his hip and the chair. He watched a sliver of sunlight blink on the high wall as he dozed back to sleep. Continue reading


A Midsummer Morning

She’s done creating with words. The identification with ideas and selves through language turns the great gasping river to concrete.*

Words, beautiful vision-glyphs used for purposes. Keep telling the stories people, people. Keep making meaning out of mystery. Abusers of the alphabet. Continue reading

Letter to the Uterine Fibroid

Uterine— you, grow where a baby might, barring genesis of any new life, take take taking all this body’s blood for yourself. Squanderer. Foe. Whoa the heart, whoa the kidneys that need a constant supply of the fresh stuff. Fibroid usurper, I can hear your silent pronouncement: Whither as you will, vital organs. I am God. I am taking Everything. Continue reading

Metaphors for Cheerleaders


I was a cheerleader. People who know me now, or knew me in New York in my goth-punk-poet days, find this very hard to believe. I wasn’t just a briefly experimental cheerleader either; I was a cheerleader for six years, from age 11-17. I was good at it, and I loved it (until I didn’t). And when I went back to my 20 year high school reunion, chatting and remembering faces, people clearly still expected me to be a cheerleader, or their image of what A Cheerleader becomes. I had discovered later on in life just how pretty young cheerleaders are viewed in high school and broader culture. I had no idea at the time. Even in the 1980s youth still had potential to be naive and innocent. I had no idea why a fellow female student I’d never met or spoken to would walk up to me in the school hallway and seethe into my face “Bitch!” But what’s really interesting to me about all this, and how it has remained a constant thread through my life: is that if you’re “attractive,” people assume your life is perfect. Continue reading

A Mother’s Day

It descends on her, Cathartes aura, a black sky falling, cold gray eyes bound in fire. She sees it coming for her as if she’s rose carrion but she’s not and she screams at it “I’m alive! I’m alive!” As if the ache it brings could be diverted.

It lands. On her chest, pressing on her lungs so that she strives. For. Breath. Continue reading

An April Full Moon

It’s another one of those days. Aching from the inside out. Flutters of mild nausea if nausea, some nondescript clouds of not-wellness periodically eclipsing her. It’s a full moon, the last day of April, first day of the week. Mondays are for productivity. Hers has been thwarted by what comes weekly, sometimes more, maybe, sometimes less, who could ever say? The way the flare of an un-united body cycles is one of the Great Mysteries.  Continue reading


Some nights the pain would come on in slow, gradual waves, waking me bit by bit until stillness was impossible. The body would by then need an outlet for the intensity of the pain, sometimes that meant curling up and rubbing my feet together, sometimes laying flat and shaking a leg repetitiously, eventually it meant needing to vocalize, to make small sounds, little pain mantras. These movements and sounds were the body’s necessary pressure valves and because they would wake my husband, who slept next to me and needed to go to work in the morning, I would slip from the bed deftly, pulling the bedroom door closed behind me, making the sofa my pain altar for the night. Continue reading