Sunny Vuong

Frankie Valli’s in love with you

Frankie Valli’s in love with you

first printed in Half Mystic Journal

—and I mold this form into a ventriloquist. What is a serenade except a game of clues ruled

by proxy. The puppet spins the record player, meek and soft and aching to the touch, and

Frankie Valli croons that he loves you, baby. How does that taste, my sweet thing, my

darling. Are we sure that everything is going to be alright. Are we sure that this is the aroma

of the home we were looking for. I am indulging in the pulse of your atrium by imagined

proprioception. Now: a motion picture. Film reel in overload across the screen. How are

the doves; how the texture of my blood between your lips. Now: a request for clemency in the damp

space beneath your skin. The waning moons of the whites of your eyes. Don’t

go. I am switching off the lights. I am your locum tenens lover. I am Frankie Valli crooning

that there’s no word left to say. The pads of our fingers running along closed doors that are

yearbook pictures preserved in dermatographia. Now: this, bursting like dynamite on

the skin of your tongue. If Frankie sang that he needed you, baby, would you still go,

would you still be leaving now. If I crushed up the morning larks into his cologne,

would you waft it closer. Don’t look. There is spring in my arms, and I know

it is too much. I am holding a heart in surrogacy. There lies an artfulness to our tragedy;

I know because I pantomimed it. I am singing as myself now with a box of rusty nails

for a larynx. I know. I understand. I was the stand-in. I was the ballad and the

bittersweet fragrance in the making. The song too loud to stay. Now, the unloved encore.

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Sunny Vuong is the founder and editor-in-chief of Interstellar Literary Review, and an alumni of the 2021 Adroit Journal Summer Mentorship program. Her work is featured or forthcoming in Diode, Strange Horizons, and Kissing Dynamite, among others. Connect with her on Twitter @sunnyvwrites.