Cell Mate

by Robert Johnson & Ania Dobrzanska


I sit before her, crouched

In the corner of our bare cell

Fully clothed, fully exposed,

Hurt, alone

Head shaking

Heart aching

Thoughts racing

I am a prisoner

A prisoner of her rage

A prisoner in her cage

A prisoner of my own private death row

That’s how things go

When abuse becomes a way of life

and death


She looms above me

An animal now with teeth bared

Words that bite, tear my flesh

I am a whore

I am a slut

I am trash

Unworthy, unwanted


She grows bigger with each insult

Swelling up, feeding off my pain

I shrink before her eyes

Dying a little inside


Later, she snuggles up to me

As if nothing had happened

“We’ll get through this,” she purrs.




(first appeared in Burnt Offerings: Poems on Crime and Punishment,

BleakHouse Publishing, 2007)