Three Poems by Dante Novario

Magic Mirror

It’s not my fault your room is unlovable
But you still blame me, bloodshot disdain
And glass-bottled breath, staring at me

Every night as if I were a metal cursed, a glossy
Enchantment, as if I chose to make my reality
Your filthy reflection; a spiteful silver itself
Manifesting moldy corners and chipping paint stains.

I can’t help that your rusted faucet leaks rivers
In my hands, that there’s always two rats, dusty sunlight
Twice as far away. You began to hate my eye, couldn’t bear

A witness, a broadcast, confirmation that what is horrible
Is true, decided the only way to blind me
Was to break me, so you broke me

But look, every splintered piece
Shows a new truth. Now there’s eight bitter palms
Gripping a many-headed man, a miserable hydra
Whose regrets multiply by the minute, cracks growing

Inside me like viruses, I summon more dirty coffee tables, more
Gangrene couches, I build a maze of ripped wallpaper, ugliness
Cast kaleidoscopic and myriad. I am shattering

And I am blossoming like a fungus. I hope you keep screaming.
Keep stomping your blood-soaked feet, I’ll show you a hundred
Hate-filled hands, spiderwebs spun thicker, your body tangled

In a tumbleweed of splattering barbed wire sinking deeper
Into a hell with its doors unlocked, frightful eyes
In the thousands, cracking rooms blistering
Against every melding surface, every pitiful
Angle, each a laughing tongue, each new dimension;
A sad little room with you trapped in every one.


She took my soul, a cactus print zippo, my roommate’s
Coffee maker but at least left my body

Still lying there in bed to this day, still mistaking carcass
For cocoon, a mirror reflecting itself, fulfilling someone

When I am empty is not possible I learned
Too late. Sorry to the other nightmare creatures of lore

Waiting in the nearby darkness, fang salivating
For a little nibble of my virgin flesh;

I’m no good to you now. Skinned potato sack
Pickled and brined until I turned cornichon

Small enough to fit between her molars, attracted by the glowing lights
Of her anglers’ bait; I didn’t know I’d be absorbed completely

I didn’t recognize the black fur markings of an antechinus
Meaning I’d be fucked into nothing, a puddle

Of slender limbs, each still grasping, each still hoping
She’ll remember me the next morning. I forgot consent

Is needed for both sex and possession, it doesn’t matter,
My body signed the dotted line, I guess it sometimes feels good

To do irrevocable evil to yourself and beat everyone else
To the punch. It feels good to know where my soul will reside

Even if it’s dissolving in the stomach
Of a she-demon I met on Margarita Tuesdays eating

Too much queso, of course she approached me first
And asked if I was lonely, of course I told the truth and said yes.

I could have pleaded for God to save me
And maybe given her one genuine laugh

But I didn’t, I freely offered the last thing I had left:
My bland skin, ingested innocence, an origami man

Who unfolded each and every ugly crisp
Until he laid there, just a blank piece of paper.

Middle-Aged Texters

Dear, I am on my way home, groceries are in the trunk:
Faux cow meat, the curdled fungi you like
I’ve bought more biodegradable squares for the upcoming weeks,
Longer if the season is lucky.

BE SAFE. Whoops, forgot caps lock was on. I wish your grocery list
Included my little embrace, a few discount misses.
I will forewarn you that I have not dusted the pantry
And I am not planning on doing so.

Bastard. Sometimes I want my 30s back.
Sometimes I want to run someone over
And just keep driving. I missed mom last night
But lied and said it was about Lydia’s bridge party next week.

Sorry my autocorrect changed kiss to miss.
I knew something was wrong
Since Lydia died 3 years ago.
Remember your dentist appointment is on Wednesday, remember my heart
Is a tender muscle. Promise you will keep texting me
Until we run out of words, and then we’ll make some up?

My phone vibrates more softly
When it’s from you. I can see a tiny bit of God
In your automatically suggested photo.

FaceTime me sometime, I forgot how it works,
I forgot how many moles line your neck.
Well I remember but what if more have appeared
Since yesterday? Someone needs to keep track of your body’s lovely aging.
I’m so glad we are aging together.

You burnt dinner last night and ruined the lining of my dress
With the fire you started. lol I like when you’re unpredictable, I’m reminded
That with all our years together I still do not really know you.

It’s too bad the chicken expired, Aunt Melanie’s recipe will have to wait.
I’ll hold your hand in the dirt, I’ll hold your head when it feels
Too heavy. It’s getting late, are you still safe?

I sometimes see you sitting in the backseat of the van
Behind even our children. You are whining like a spoiled dog.
I sometimes feel glad when you cry and I am tempted to drink your tears.

I hate old photographs, the distant faces we used to make
Happiness drenched in every picture.
Were we smiling after the camera shutters snapped? Can we still
Smile so convincingly?

I don’t remember. You’ve still got pretty good hair.
I still think of you, do you think of me too?

We’ll eat straw together, when we become cows after death.

We can do that, yesterday I cleaned the kitchen
But I destroyed what was left of your grandma’s fine china
And made it look like an accident.

It doesn’t matter, it can be a mess because it’s ours.
Have you been drinking wine?

Yes, love, my head is warm and swimming
Somewhere warmer.

Will you be home soon?

Call the sitter and jump in.
Let’s drive into the sunrise,
Just you and me forever.

Just you and me forever.

Dante Novario currently lives in Louisville, KY where he studied writing at Bellarmine University and works as a behavior analyst with special needs individuals. His work has previously appeared or is forthcoming in Firewords Quarterly, Strange Horizons, Still: The Journal, Ghost City, Rogue Agent, The River, Dream Pop, and Neologism. At times, you can still find him selling odd little scrolls of his poetry throughout the city.