LAKE OF BLOOD
JOANNA C. VALENTE
What is the first word
you remember that lit up a burning
ocean, a flesh burning of its owner
whose name was burned into your back
unsaid and unknown.
Where was the first time
you remembered anything?
What now? You remember nothing but your other life.
You are blank.
When the last time you remember not being
Men scare you.
Careless men have made
a world what it is,
and we’ve had to follow
When I left that place called home
I was godless
a landless monster
who never had the baby you wanted
who never gave you exactly what you needed, so you left
with someone else
to destroy like a siphoned lake
gasoline killing all the lives
of animals you consider less
I am less than living to men
Whose truth is this? Was I blind to the truth the entire time?
Or finally understand the trick
I’ve been under the entire time,
told to believe a power lie
so you could be big
and I could be small to let you fit;
smaller than a bottle
of painkillers with my name
I flushed them down after days
of wondering, after days of realizing
I am worthy
of being alive, of being
This is all
of our mess now.
Where is the mop? How do we clean
this up? How do we clean ourselves
from the inside?
JOANNA C. VALENTE is a human who lives in Brooklyn, New York. Joanna 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), Sexting Ghosts (Unknown Press, 2018), No(body) (Madhouse Press, 2019), and #Survivor (Arkay Artists, 2020). They are the editor of A Shadow Map: Writing By Survivors of Sexual Assault (CCM, 2017), and received a MFA in writing at Sarah Lawrence College. Joanna is also the founder of Yes, Poetry, as well as the senior managing editor for Luna Luna Magazine.