Judith

 

No yen for battle, no bloodlust.

I even looked away when they butchered the lambs.

Still, my village gray with dust, our crops

dying like prayer

in the earth’s parched throat.

A woman does what she must.

 

As I swayed past him,

Holophernes grinned.

Shrewd general,

but passion’s fool.

 

My weapons – kohl

around the eyes, crushed beetles

to redden my lips. The axe

blade sharp as thirst.

 

Two strokes – one for

the blocked river, one to sever

the last stubborn flap.

 

Stuck on the gate, his head

issued silent commands.

The soldiers rushed away like water

dammed, then freed.

 

Jezebel

 

Always one religion

devours another,

always the new god

hungry for blood.

 

The truth

of any prophecy’s decided

by those left alive.

 

Sure I painted my face,

though beauty failed

to stop the eunuchs’

grabbing hands.

 

Tossed from the balcony,

I plummeted.

They cheered to see my body

broken like a law,

my flesh manna

to the ravenous pack.

 

Wounded Amazon

 

A woman is more than her injuries

                                                                                             what enters

                                                                                                    what draws blood

 

          To fight means to be safe

                                                                 to live

 

Most men have two faces

                                           so an axe

                                                              needs two sharp sides

 

 

There are many kinds of wounds

 

In other lands my sisters

                                                          toil and spin,

 

 men’s habits, hungers

                                        written into law

 

 

The exhilaration of a well-placed blade!

 

 

Once a warrior has killed a man in battle

                                                                      she can marry         

 

About the Poet

Alison Stone has published six full-length collections, Caught in the Myth (NYQ Books, forthcoming 2019), Dazzle (Jacar Press, 2017), Masterplan, a book of collaborative poems with Eric Greinke  (Presa Press, 2018), Ordinary Magic, (NYQ Books, 2016), Dangerous Enough (Presa Press 2014), and They Sing at Midnight, which won the 2003 Many Mountains Moving Poetry Award; as well as three chapbooks. Her poems have appeared in The Paris Review, Poetry, Ploughshares, Barrow Street, Poet Lore, and many other journals and anthologies. She has been awarded Poetry’s Frederick Bock Prize and New York Quarterly’s Madeline Sadin Award. She was recently Writer in Residence at LitSpace St. Pete. She is also a painter and the creator of The Stone Tarot. A licensed psychotherapist, she has private practices in NYC and Nyack. www.stonepoetry.org  www.stonetarot.com