Joanna C. Valente




        “That part of me isn't here anymore”

                  -Nine Inch Nails


Above or below

                        there is no

sound —


            just vibration, a humming


                        the space between a vulture’s wings

            or a group of bees the shape


                                                           of a face you used to have

            before you became another  


                        [ there are times

                                     I dream of a voice

                                                             that takes me


                                     into a stone house below the water


                        as if I was born inside the house inside

                                   the wa


                        and you were there

                                   rib or no rib

                                              a place with no gunshots

                                   just a memory of voice



          and then the other version

                                  is about a lake

                                             not a stone house

          where I am a lake


                                              with a spell


where you live inside

                                      a black furnace —


you are the thing

                                      that heats

                                                             it up

          a fire without fire

               speaking another language

          that you’ve forgotten but still remember


in dreams where your skin


                                    is too hot

                                                to touch

          so you swim until your skin


                                                           falls off


          and you become

                                                 something else

I can’t see —


                       the water has risen


          crystals freezing our bodies


          above midnight because midnight


                                  doesn’t exist here


                                   and we aren’t really sure


who are the ghosts

                                   and what river is


                        the real one


                                   because everyone keeps


getting lost or killed


                                               along the way —


             please just leave us, we pray






        “All love is lost”



Are you in heaven now?

I lock the door unsure

which of us is the monster —

unsure if this is the version

you died of cancer

or heart attack or stroke

or pills or ghosts

or if this is the version where

you’re still in the dining room

finishing the squash soup

or if you’re still


the only goddamn woman


can see right through a moving

train and if this is the version

where I ask you to come

home with me in Brooklyn,

back home


and if this is the version

where you say you’ve had too much

to drink to write me

and instead say, I’d fuck your sister

and her boyfriend too

before I dream of a sea

to envelope me, before I drink

bleach to find if hell is where

the driver says


sweetheart, wait. I don’t know

if this is the version where you hate

the driver, where you love

yourself. I lock the door

unsure which of us has become

the monster.




A Relationship in Songs



This is not a dream sequence



there will never be another you 

sure of love; everybody's got 


to learn sometime how high the moon 

call it fate, call it karma, the shadow

of your smile—


lose your smile, would you? 

Wolves still cry.

Your ex-lover is dead. 

The body appears


without you. I'll be your mirror

soul on fire, full moon, lust for life.


I say a little prayer. 

Everything is illusion

rid of me, black magic, lemon glow—


moonlight becomes you, the everlasting

gaze  into dust—eyes without a face 


like a prayer

to build a home; my love grows in darkness

night and day. 


Everybody's got a home but me. 

I've never been there. Goodbye darling. 

I could be happy, blue angel, but not tonight


love will tear us apart; all we ever wanted 

was everything


into the black, all the things you are

paint it black.


I'll love you more than you'll ever know. 

The sky lit up the hidden river

of my life—


someone to watch over me

in the gloaming, vampire again,


re: person I knew. Is that all there is,

beauty queen? We've been had—


you're fucking

no one. Play the goddamned 


Joanna C. Valente is a human who lives in Brooklyn, New York. They are the author of Sirs & Madams (Aldrich Press, 2014), The Gods Are Dead (Deadly Chaps Press, 2015), Marys of the Sea (ELJ Publications, 2016) & Xenos (Agape Editions, 2016), and is the editor of A Shadow Map: Writing by Survivors of Sexual Assault (CCM, 2017). They received their MFA in writing at Sarah Lawrence College. Joanna is the founder of Yes, Poetry and the managing editor for Civil Coping Mechanisms and Luna Luna Magazine. Some of their writing has appeared in Prelude, BUST, Spork Press, The Feminist Wire, and elsewhere. Joanna also leads workshops at Brooklyn Poets. / Twitter: @joannasaid / IG: joannacvalente