Their Hell

Lucifer peeled her                                        
                                            an orange, fed her girl-mouth                      
                    kept strangers away.                                                
                                                                    Some things he could give.

There were blue jays.
                                                        He birthed them for her,                                                                                                                                                                barely made the subway

                          An old woman slept
                                                                                            on his shoulder, gathering ruin.
                    He loved these children—               
                                                                    his shadow wives.                                                                           

                                                                                 Only during mercury retrograde
                    under a shut-off moon would he bring
                                                                                            newcomers as tribute,
                                kept dark

                                              distant from her bedroom.
                                                                    Grew azaleas & wisteria inside
        her bookcase, fastened Christmas
                                                                                                        lights around the canopy.

                                Mary loved his pocket watch
                                                                                its bone fingers would skip
                    like a record, remind her
                                                                    of hurricanes taking whole

                                 cities as tribute, shredding pulses
                                                        like packages. Lucifer came back
        with the clipped wings
                                                                                            of a dove, her lover

                                                    climbed on top of her                      
                                                                             a candle in each hand.
        Left in a room of her own                                                               
                                                        she mourned her mother's

                                                        belly, brewed a fear
                    that she loved a void.



A femme person is wearing a floral dress in a park.

A femme person is wearing a floral dress in a park.

JOANNA C. VALENTE is a human who lives in Brooklyn, New York, and is the author of Sirs & Madams (Aldrich Press, 2014), The Gods Are Dead (Deadly Chaps Press, 2015), Marys of the Sea (The Operating System, 2017), Xenos (Agape Editions, 2016) and the editor of A Shadow Map: An Anthology by Survivors of Sexual Assault (CCM, 2017). Joanna received a MFA in writing at Sarah Lawrence College, and is also the founder of Yes, Poetry, a managing editor for Luna Luna Magazine and CCM, as well as an instructor at Brooklyn Poets. Some of their writing has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Brooklyn Magazine, Prelude, Apogee, Spork, The Feminist Wire, BUST, and elsewhere.