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

home.

An old woman slept                                                                                           

on his shoulder, gathering ruin.                   

He loved these children‚ÄĒ ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†

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.

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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.