Janel Galnares πŸ”ˆ

Judith Beheading Holofernes by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio


lugs the severed
head of (Holofernes)
arrogant commander

brutal conqueror.
Overseer of cities
' ruin. She

can smell
the blood seep
from cloth, drip

as she walks
back across
enemy lines.

Woman of (God)
beauty beheads
the general

in his bed.
Drunken, tumbling
the lusting man

caught unawares
in her silken
thread, gilded

trap. His head
greening, stuffed
in a sack

by her faithful
maid (Abra), partner
in the act.

Two pious women
together deliver
(Israel). (God)’s

hand through
hers executes
the knife.

(Judith)’s story
depicted best
not by Caravaggio

but a woman
(Artemisia), only 19
her weapon

of choiceβ€”
a paintbrush.
(Holofernes) a stand-in

for (Tassi)
her mentor,
her rapist.

Her body
tortured twice:
first by him

then by interrogators
at her trial
who wrapped cords

‘round ringless fingers
though her hands
were a gift

from (God). “This
is the ring
you give me

and these
your promises,” she
said to him.

“It’s true
it’s true
it’s true”

her vengeance
vicarious through
a series

of paintings. Through
(Judith)’s wrath,
a reckoning.

Author Reading

About the Author

Janel Galnares is a poet and teacher. She graduated from San Diego State University with her MFA in Poetry. She has been teaching writing and creative writing in secondary and post-secondary schools for 10 years. Her poetry and translations have appeared in Poetry International, riverbabble, Madwoman Etc, TSPJ, and the San Diego Poetry Annual. She is currently a Poet-in-Residence for the Chicago Poetry Center.