A Journal of Poetry and Kindred Prose

Lorie Allred

earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, studying under poet John Morgan.

Among her poetry credits are New York Quarterly, The Sun, Halfway Down the Stairs, Rose & Thorn, and The Smoking Poet.

She works as a librarian in North Carolina.

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What Makes a Devil

The night we met, I understood God's
love for Lucifer. What made a devil
out of him can make a man or woman
fall as far. For you, I was willing to break
any law. It didn't matter if you took bruises
or gave them. I’d hang on a cross for you.

After we first made love, you
shut the window and said you hated rain--God's
punishment, you said, like the bruises
your father dealt you. He was a devil,
and once you tried to cut the brake
line in his car, but your mother, the woman

you trusted in love (unlike any other woman),
found you drunk in the garage and stopped you.
You rested hard against my heart until thunder broke
us apart. It’s nothing. I pulled you back. Just God
moving furniture
. But you knew better. It’s the Devil
beating his wife
, you whispered, planting sweet bruises

on my neck. They stayed, your bruises
and mine, faithful as a beaten woman,
dark as a father’s anger. The Devil
whispered in my ear that I could heal you,
that I held a power stronger than God.
I tried to wield it. I fought so hard to break

your madness and not break
you. You drank to numb your bruises,
crushed and hid the empty cans, swore to God
you weren't drunk, and mistook me for a woman
you held before. One night I watched you
hold a lit cigarette to your wrist, bedeviled

beyond belief. When I saw the mark, the Devil’s
thumbprint, I searched our room for things to break—
my face in the mirror, a glass in my hand. Your
kisses came like swift and hateful bruises,
my arms pinned like a dead moth’s wings, the woman
who dragged you to hell, as much to blame as God.

I saw the Devil in your eyes and felt my bruises
darken, the veins breaking slowly like a woman
you hold onto, then make into your god.