Valentina Cano

Questionable Advice for Freedom

You have to peel your
fingernails out one by one,
pry them out with the knife of words
and learn to walk with pulsing, bleeding fingers.
You have to plant your feet
on the burning grill of the day
and feel each second tattooed itself into you.
You have to chop off enough to live.

Tesla and His Death Ray

The best part of me is the need
to gnaw off.
Tear paper into dandruff,
slice smiles into watermelon halves.
The need to hammer thumbtacks
with the same force as nails,
the need to hiss and duck
into the darkest shadow in the room.

Taming Flame

You are a piece of fiery sunset
molded into shape.
My hands reach out like greedy mouths,
but you still scald,
still demand a sacrifice of skin.

Penelope Learns to Keep Time

Its secret is perched on the point of an arrow
fleeing from the tightest wooden ribcage
and on the beater
pressing crimped, crease colored thread down.
It glitters in the air within the mouth of hoops
and in the space between warp threads.
In the crackling of the dying fire.
In the rising horizon of lapping colors.
In the longest day rowing itself to a stop.


I sit on a skeletal chair
surrounded by beings I don’t recognize.
They chew on words,
drips of slobber coating
each syllable crumbling
in their gummed mouths,
draining the room of
its dusty damask of silence.

vcValentina Cano is a student of classical singing who spends whatever free time she has either reading or writing. Her works have appeared in numerous publications and her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Web. Her debut novel, The Rose Master, was published in 2014 and was called a “strong and satisfying effort” by Publishers Weekly.


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