Two Poems by Joanna C. Valente

 

 

 

LET SATAN BACK IN

Cradled between your knees,
a sound, maybe your voice
maybe your hands touching

the espresso cup, an illusion—
a constant against everything
like tiny sailboats floating

upside down in some universe
we don’t understand, where men
burn their eyes, far away traffic

on a too quiet street, far
from the sounds of waves
seated in your collarbone, guardrails

shaking loose from their bolts
as if a caterpillar finally
turning semi-nude only
to realize nudity

means nothing and what
came first, a piece of fruit
or the desire for the first

sight of the thing you
want to be—during a full
moon, all kinds of men try

to put their fingers
in you like you need space
to occupy, like your insides

have shrunk like the lessons
you never learned in school
and you finally realized

there are 2,000 ways
to play solitaire and what
is really giving up?

 

 

 

 

DIVE STRAIGHT INTO THE WRECK

The past few nights, I’ve been dreaming of my dead
but they do not have faces, but I know they are mine.
That I am theirs. And there’s nothing I can do about it.

There was a night when I believed I could escape, live
like a woman who gets what she wants the way men
get what they want. Claim a body, a land, a myth,

a legacy. My husband told me to get inside our Ford
and I wasn’t sure if this was him or a dream-him. He said
the world is ending. The grass glowed like gold sludge.

Basilie’s voice echoed far away, maybe from a phone,
maybe from across the hall. We were little girls again.
But I never knew her as a child.

I told her to pack up her things and come to Brooklyn.
She couldn’t muster enough breath to talk anymore. Throat
gargled with salt and black muck, a twilighted cancer

raged like red coals and I could tell she wished
she was already gone.

 

 

 

Joanna C. Valente is sometimes a mermaid and sometimes a human. She is the author of Sirs & Madams (Aldrich Press, 2014) and The Gods Are Dead (Deadly Chaps Press), and received her MFA at Sarah Lawrence College. Her collection Marys of the Sea is forthcoming from ELJ Publications in 2016. Some of her work appears in The Huffington Post, Columbia Journal, The Atlas Review, The Destroyer, among others. In 2011, she received the American Society of Poets Prize. She edits Yes, Poetry, and is the Managing Editor for Luna Luna Magazine.

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