Joanna Valente     


I, Too, Am Drowning

Marilyn Says


I, Too, Am Drowning


A man says, you are mine forever
even when you are not;

the world was built for one
and a second who isn’t always

around the hyacinths & ivy
wrapped around the kitchen

window like a blind woman’s
body woven around seven

men trying to convince themselves
to ruin their lives like a spoiled

bottle of milk thrown to the floor,
clumps everywhere,

never holding something
they love as much as a child

named Coaltown Jesus
who works every night

for fifteen years on the map
of desire—tunnels stretched

from three graves, corpses
gchatting each other’s organs

discovering what they lived for
when being mortal meant

everything—when reconciliation
meant cutting out your eyes

& peeling back the blanket
of shame across the sky

not telling someone
they are beautiful, not breathing

into the soft glow of 
a dying woman’s mouth

& whispering, I love all 


Marilyn Says


Marilyn says always use
a condom after an independent

each night, pray to me 
for buxom breasts & mountain

pray the next ten years of
yr girlish body runs 
as fast as a freight train.


Marilyn says eat my
beauty like poetry 
because we’re already

dead & dying twice
can only happen once 
you’ve learned

how to suck
oysters, boys, teeth
inside yr mouth

& taste sanguine like 
cutting legs into 
swarming butterflies

making love upside down
like children who have 
to prove

they are worth loving.


Marilyn says I can’t imagine
making love when I’m

the closest to orgasm
has been shoving 
a tampon fast inside &

men leaving 
me with the taste
of double vision

under my skirt,
flowing a river you’ve
never heard of.


Joanna C. Valente is sometimes a mermaid and sometimes a human. She is the author of Sirs & Madams (Aldrich Press, 2014) and received her MFA at Sarah Lawrence College. Her second collection Marys of the Sea is forthcoming from ELJ Publications in 2016. Some of her work appears, or is forthcoming, in The Huffington Post, Columbia Journal, Similar Peaks, The Paris-American, The Atlas Review, The Destroyer, among others. In 2011, she received the American Society of Poet’s Prize. She founded Yes, Poetry in 2010, and is the Managing Editor for Luna Luna Magazine. Her ghost resides here