Jenna Velez: Are You Ever Worried You’ll Come Out of This Alive?

Jenna Velez: Are You Ever Worried You’ll Come Out of This Alive?
Photo: Joanna C. Valente

Photo: Joanna C. Valente

how to sew yourself back together


i would lead the needle

like a snake charmer

let it writhe through

the alabaster fabric of my palm

red thread to mirror blue river

peel off the white upturned flesh

hardened over time and space

like dog-eared pages

in a book about witchcraft

spells for the sick of mind


now is the time to sing

a song of sacrifice

with every drop of human wine

you wonder if it was an accident

these are little charms

to whisper through worlds

the noose is my microphone

tying my soul to my body


framed for possession


the skeleton inside me

dances when i do

and groans inside its prison

my immortal shadow

it wears me like loose-fitting clothes


i wonder how it got there

how many fish bones

i accidentally swallowed

how many hearts i broke

how many souls i harvested

from a backfired spell

how many animals i ate

without mercy

their skin seasoned with

sage and rosemary

was not enough to rid me

of my baby rattle

and tomb fixture


my reflection is talking at 300mg

do you feel yourself / shaking and feverish / dissociating in the world / of a lover’s arms / the veins becoming nooses / are you hanging on / the edge of existence / swinging by your teeth / are you tasting / the earth’s skin / can you fall / through the black well / of starry dreams / can you hunger / for sexless starvings / in place of the bodies / you wear at night / are you ever worried / you’ll come out / of this alive?

Jenna Velez is an emerging queer Latinx poet from suburban Philadelphia. Her work has been featured in over a dozen literary journals. She currently runs "The Northern Bruja's Grimoire" column at Pussy Magic Press and "By Death, She Lives" blog at Rhythm & Bones Press. She tweets @northernbruja and can be found at