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Breath & Shadow

Spring 2011 - Vol. 8, Issue 2

"Body, Forlorn" and "Pill by Pill"

written by

Ariel Johnson

"Body, Forlorn"


When I sing in the shower, her voice rings loud;

When I look in the mirror, she looks back;

I cringe and turn away.

So now, quiet I stay.


The ghost of hair brushing my back,

The swirl of swaying skirts.

Every time I turn she’s not there,

And every phantom touch hurts.


I paint my lips redder than hers,

Paint my eyelids blue.

I buckle a collar around my neck

And hope it’ll keep me true.


This girl whose heart still beats is dead,

And no one knew to mourn.

So now she haunts me, day and night,

The body she left, forlorn.

Ariel, please leave me alone!

You were the one who left,

You swapped your body out to me,

You thought you wanted to rest.


Ariel, I don’t know where you are,

Don’t know where you’ve gone without me.

Are you dancing on clouds with our old dreams?

Have you sunk into the deep sea?


A body’s not meant to live by itself,

But my soul has up and gone.

Ariel is dead, and all I can do

Is my best to carry on.



"Pill by Pill"


Pill by pill.

Dropping down the red tunnel

Of a throat;

Chemicals with technical names

Too long to remember;

Generic names that have labels attached.

(Psychosis, depression, anxiety

– just plain crazy.)


Alter the balance,

Even the scales.

The floor stays still,

The veins stay silent,

And the heart stays steady.

Thump-thump. Thump-thump.


Pill by pill,

The days pass

And a life is lived.

Ariel Johnson is a student living in Pittsburgh, PA. She was diagnosed with depression at thirteen, and a year later her psychotic symptoms were identified. Ariel is currently in partial remission, attending a public high school and performing violin and belly dance.

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