Black Venus

Laura Stringfellow



There is something the sea knows beyond question—
Something beyond the barracuda’s true craving,
How the mouths of fish open and shut like anemones.
See the octopus’s body wave like a greedy hand.
Always, at 4 a.m., I wake inside the Dead

Sea. My body slaps the side of a boat. I plot
To frighten the fishermen. I’ve made
Friends with the killer whites. But I am not
Light or silvery. I am dark beyond question.
My heart is a black pearl.


Listen, Kronos. When I find you, I’ll slice
Your balls with my eye teeth, break you
Between my legs. Grind
Rock salt in your scars, dance
On the circumference of your skin.

Maybe you died once in surgery.
Maybe you were fed all my mothers’
Breasts, like a caged hen.
Not the stone, but flesh. Look at the tip
Of my tongue—the opened mouth of a snake.

My body cannot be known by the others.
My lips speak a language of rusty hooks.
All night and day, the swimmers dive
Into my mouth. I feel their slick bodies,

Like oysters, fall into me. Still,
I know the current of my legs
And the prophecy which says

One day I will rise and seek vengeance on the villagers.




Laura Stringfellow writes both verse and prose poetry, holds an MFA in Creative Writing, Poetry, and hails from the muggy strangelands of the Southern US. Recent publications have appeared, or are forthcoming, in various journals including Right Hand Pointing, Déraciné, Neologism Poetry Journal, Clementine Unbound, Black Poppy Review, and Thirteen Myna Birds.