THE ONES YOU LEFT BEHIND ARE STILL WITH YOU

When you woke up, you said you
wanted to plant an orchid inside
your skull just to prove

you can make something

grow too—a skull that works
as a construction worker, a botanist
planting something that lurks

around old hotels and bathroom stalls
but inside everyone else’s

skulls too. Because you know one
is never enough. And you don’t trust

yourself enough to believe

in what you see even if it is
an internet sensation. I’m sorry

for trying to plant a ghost inside
you, you say. I’m sorry for living

With my rapist. I’m not sorry

for wanting to choke someone
else. I can’t remember if

I choked you.

You’ve always wanted to fuck
someone while they are asleep

because you hate your body. You erase

your body with the dark. There are
no lights in any of your

fantasies. Human contact
Is never enough.

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 Sexting the Dead (Unknown Press, 2018). They are 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 in Brooklyn Magazine, Prelude, Apogee, Spork, The Feminist Wire, BUST, and elsewhere.