by Valerie Little

  1. “Thou who art my castle’s daylight…Judith, love me, ask no questions.” –Bela Balazs
  2. Judith holds the keys to seven doors
  3. before being lost to darkness:
  4. first blood, second armory,
  5. I am battle hungry for your violence
  6. the flinty smack of defeat
  7. a mouth full of wet pennies.
  8. Sew your sins into your skin
  9. assemble us from weapons you cast aside
  10. make a new play thing, new wife.
  11. she gets your grand gesture
  12. blonde girls always do.
  13. how long was it before you asked her to dye it dark like mine?
    1. third kingdom, fourth tears.
    2. I lived coltish beyond our borders before
    3. I buckled scarlet-heart scarred at your castle walls.
    4. we kissed on the bathroom floor
    5. unschooled on the lost art of goodbye
    6. sponging some extra seconds of flesh
    7. caressing Asmodeus’ salt into my graveyard wounds
    8. singing a glassed-in fish’s bubbling lament.
      1. fifth riches, sixth fauna,
      2. hang me by your ruby words,
      3. stardust touch and lavender breath.
      4. walk between the sun-splintered sugar maples
      5. with women who treasured you less than I
      6. instructing them to love you and ask no questions.
      7. I turn down our walk and skip town,
      8. slipping on the seventh, a chain around my neck.

Valerie studied creative writing and music at Pennsylvania State University. Her work has been seen in Sheila-Na-Gig, The Write Launch, River Heron Review, Kalliope, Willard and Maple, Cathexis Northwest Press, Duck Lake Journal, Saint Paul Almanac, on the literary podcast, Apertures, and in a poetry anthology curated by poet Victor Klimoski. Professionally, she is a violist and orchestra librarian with the Minnesota Orchestra.