“Lucifer Says” – Poetry by Joanna C. Valente

Untitled - Dora Maar, 1936
Untitled – Dora Maar, 1936

Enter the magically surreal secret room of “Lucifer Says,” one of 5 spellbinding poems by Joanna C. Valente in our Winter 2016 issue. Buy yourself a copy of FLAPPERHOUSE #8 if you’d like to read the rest…

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AT NIGHT, THERE IS A SECRET ROOM in your aunt’s house with a little door
and inside the little door, a heart beats. there is no body to house the heart
like the house houses a million bodies with guts inside that beat a body
inside an ocean so salty, there is hardly any blood. inside a room without
windows, R tries on black dresses, lets down his hair and puts charcoal
around his eyes until they are as dark as his closet, puts silver on his lids
and bats until a boy emerges from his armoire, his legs molting into feathers
until he flies into the ceiling fan—splits open like a zebra torn apart
by a lion. R stands naked in front of his mirror and the mirror turns into
a faraway forest where a wizard plays ukulele over a dying woman’s body
until the woman lies dead until the full moon turns her into a boy and then
back into a woman until she is neither. R dreams of this woman.

the woman wakes up in a field of trees made by metal and rock. she walks
down a crooked path until she finds a sign that says downtown r train. she
throws her body—so slow and tired it feels like someone else’s body not
even human—onto the train until she falls into R’s bed. R sees her
from the mirror—cradles her until she becomes human again, until she
feels like the earth is forming in her belly, giving birth on his bed and he
holds their baby in his arms, breathing it out, breathing it in. He looks at
the woman and calls her T and breathes into her ear and she breathes into
his until they no longer are, until they both are everywhere else outside
their bodies.

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joannavalente_bwJOANNA 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 Poet’s Prize. She edits Yes, Poetry, and is the Managing Editor for Luna Luna Magazine.

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