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Persephone in the Desert
Ja'net Danielo

Barefoot and mad,  

I am back 

from the cold blue  

world of the dead.  

I walk cooked clay, skirt 

cacti and scorpions. 

Wild island bitch, hair  

tangled and matted  

with sea salt, thirst  

of stars in my mouth, 

I spit light, raise 

ribbons of saffron  

crocuses from red rock,  

violet succulents from  

desert-singed brush.  

Look at my star 

scarred tongue, 

my feet—sun-seared, 

branded by dirt.  

This is what it means 

to hold death close, 

tend to it like a seed. 

Tell me it wasn’t  

worth it. Tell me  

we’d be better off  

without this bloom— 

this beauty reaped  

from wounds— 

marking the earth.

originally published in The Song of Our Disappearing (Paper Nautilus, 2021)

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Ja'net Danielo is the author of The Song of Our Disappearing, a winner of the Paper Nautilus 2020 Debut Series Chapbook Contest. A recipient of a Professional Artist Fellowship from the Arts Council for Long Beach, her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Superstition Review, The Shore, GASHER, Mid-American Review, Radar Poetry, Gulf Stream, Frontier Poetry, and elsewhere. Originally from Queens, NY, Ja'net teaches at Cerritos College and lives in Long Beach, CA with her husband and her dog. You can find her at

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