Judith Slaying Holofernes
Tectonic this ache, new mass from old,
jaundice wherever I glimpse.
I got up hearing some continent
cleave inside me novel skipping
like one hundred children in a fortune matrix.
Another raid on my smallness—
small hands small feet see
how I encase your avian wrists
—I got up I said
what the fuck is wrong with you.
I should have known better
yes I should have known some men
cannot contain themselves even when they labor
gentleness their shoulders rotate to knockout.
Long ago I scored Judith on my scapula
that saint liberating the general’s skull
his eyes two ruptured aquariums
gushing unto the rug—now’s the time
to gather the fish of his pupils
steam them with the heal-all root
now’s the time to be hound of my own
search party chasing ragdoll perfume.
I got up, nothing hurt, my rage edible
flowers ground between molars.
Who knew? I knew. The stars mean nothing.
A man punched a hole in my head
& still my split lips whistle the chorus
of the bird the cat cannot catch.
Bureau de Change
I woke & my voice was a martyr in a cauldron
watching the sun. Where is the restorer with her pot
of yolk & myrrh? I smile through the land border.
My thoughts change currency & lose a bit in the exchange—
this time magnetic, a patron god in every direction.
It’s okay. I know what it is like to have the head
of one beast & the body of another. Sometimes I swim,
sometimes I fly, it’s hardly up to me. Next time,
I’ll take a few teeth to shake in my fist
like loaded dice. I’ll win again & again with my silent,
bloody mouth. It’s okay. The only god is change.
Sometimes, you step on the dead to purify them.
Kathryn Hargett-Hsu 徐凯蒂 is the author of Good Listener (2024), winner of the Frontier Poetry Breakthrough Chapbook Contest. She is Senior Poetry Fellow at Washington University in St. Louis. Born and raised in Alabama, she is the recipient of fellowships from Kundiman, Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Bucknell Seminar for Undergraduate Poets, and the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference. Most recently, she received the Academy of American Poets Prize and the Lynda Hull Memorial Prize. Find her in Poetry Daily, Best New Poets, Pleiades, swamp pink, Sixth Finch, Arts & Letters, Muzzle Magazine, The Margins, Hayden’s Ferry Review, TaiwaneseAmerican.org, The Adroit Journal, and elsewhere.