Joanna C. Valente
Were you in me, I do not know.
By morning, beta fish fought for dominance
—plucked them out, my penance not
to pray but to lose all words I love.
Yes—sea demon—swimming in my belly
reshaping woman, I flushed you down
the toilet on the river going through
a phantom spinal cord. Riding waves.
Toil & Trouble
Stirring the pot, I mix poppy seeds, almond extract,
goldenseal & lime in mud—it’s somebody
else’s will. Three times a day
on an empty stomach—or soon to be empty—I avoid
the living, allowing hands
of dead children to coil my uterus—working their magic.
Even now, I taste the skin of their fingers, bitter creatures.
this solitude to rapture
O opal insides, this body
someone else’s in a shapeless closet
beginning or end
salty sea, sweet dreams
Joanna C. Valente is a human who lives in Brooklyn, New York. They are the author of Sirs & Madams, The Gods Are Dead, Marys of the Sea, Sexting Ghosts, Xenos, No(body) (forthcoming, Madhouse Press, 2019), and is the editor of A Shadow Map: Writing by Survivors of Sexual Assault. They received their MFA in writing at Sarah Lawrence College. Joanna is the founder of Yes Poetry and the senior managing editor for Luna Luna Magazine. Some of their writing has appeared in The Rumpus, Them, Brooklyn Magazine, BUST, and elsewhere. Joanna also leads workshops at Brooklyn Poets. joannavalente.com / Twitter: @joannasaid / IG: joannacvalente / FB: joannacvalente