Elizabeth R.

A redhead. A queen. A woman.

Yes, she is me, and no:

no one’s woman, someone’s queen, sometime redhead.


Every day a society to conquer, a territory to annex.

Gold in my eyes, on my fingers, in my coffers.


Storm Season

Summer nights so hot even the rain

can’t cool us down, & steam radiates

from the asphalt, like the fog

we get in winter, yet more sinister

somehow, billowing the way it does.

All we want is bare feet, but we

can’t risk burning our toes. I don’t know

how the toads survive it, their tiny

bumpy bodies absorbing what the sun

left behind before the clouds rolled in.

Thunder keeps rumbling.


Susannah, I’m Sorry

I couldn’t be your mother.

The specter of you follows me

through unexpected doorways,

like when I look at the man I wanted

as your father & am tempted to say,

“Go ahead. Knock me up.”

But I promise it’s better for you

that you’ll never be born

or incubated

or even conceived.

You see, Susannah, I wouldn’t be able

to love you, because I would be too afraid

a mysterious impulse would float

into my brain, begging me to make a ghost

out of your tiny, breakable, pale-skinned body.

At best, I’d have to abandon you,

leaving you to be raised by anyone

other than me.

At worst–well, let’s just say

you and I would be buried together.

Susannah, it’s not your fault.

I want you & your sister Dominique.

I do. But what I don’t want

is the haunted look I’ll see in my own eyes

in the mirror, the face of a woman

who still feels like a girl & is just selfish

enough to contemplate disappearing

so I can go live the life I planned,

& then I’ll be an apparition of the mother

you deserve: wandering the roads at night,

asking to be spirited away

to escape your midnight howls.


Caitlin Johnson holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Lesley University. Her work has appeared in Boston Poetry Magazine, Clare Literary Journal, Eternal Haunted Summer, Fortunates, Momoware, Pembroke Magazine, Vagina: The Zine, and What the Fiction, among other outlets, and is forthcoming in Baseline Literary Arts Journal and Stoneboat Literary Journal. She can be found online at cateismilesaway.net.