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Editor’s Note: Simone Person was selected by Sonia Sanchez as a winner of the Boston Review 2021 Annual Poetry Contest. Due to the poems’ complex formatting, the line breaks will only appear correctly in a computer’s full-size browser window.
After Artemisia Gentileschi’s Judith Slaying Holofernes
or rather, in praise of the blade. its strength doesn’t matter, we’re hunger-headed all the same.
our fingers wrestle his cheek’s crisp flesh to the bed,
a cheek previously motherkissed or held
by some moon-eyed love, and we pulp it into our good foundation. the hem of his neck stains
to flagrant soak, and we dig deeper. his eyes wildly bruising the room, hoping for someone
to gut us away from our will, but we’ll tell you this: we, too, were once pitchforked under god-
swept wanting, and no one came for us, as none will for him now. we’ve no pleasure in this
frenzy—he crueled us into rampage.
o, blade, thank you for your famine of questioning. steady
in our practiced violence. how just it is to unmake a man
After Jean-Léon Gérôme’s Truth Coming from the Well Armed with Her Whip to Chastise Mankind
I’ve strengthened my grip, gospeled my mouth into deathless cavity. I purged all my tender, and
it’s your name I’m hellhounding.
down in the well, I took my time. taught myself to
sugar into cloying and knife under your gums. vengeance-electric, I’m eager to blister your
bloodline. I’ve returned as blunt scythe to slit you into a new kind of man, heeled beneath the
rough of my gaze.
each time you muscle me down this cobblestone, I scalp a sharper way up.
and now you’ll have to look at your tombed mistake, a gaunt exposure of what you thought
you’d buried. you’re running out of places to hide from me.
Author’s Note: In the final line of “Cry Wolf,” “you’re running out of places to hide from me” is from My Chemical Romance’s “It’s Not a Fashion Statement, It’s a Fucking Deathwish.”