You Asked for an Example of Realism
Caravaggio seems to have understood how
Hard it is to cut off a man’s head, how the blood
Shoots disconcertingly from severed arteries.
His Judith is a novice to the work of killing. Her
Brow is furrowed with the new concentration
Required, without sense of future or past, just
Holofernes’s surprise and bulging eyes,
His mouth wide open as though he is
Trying to swallow his own death. But her grip
On his hair does not relax, and the sword stays
Heavy in her right hand. The job is only half-way
Done. A few locks of reddish hair brush against her
Ear, mirroring subtly the curl of her lips. She
Wears a pearl earring tied with a black ribbon. There
Was a message in that ribbon, but her would-be
Lover failed to notice. They say her white blouse was
A late addition, that once, she was naked from
The waist up, just as Holofernes is naked, his hand
Still pressed against the folds of the blanket.
To the side, an old woman glares at the dying
General and holds a cloth bag to catch the head.
George Franklin's most recent collection, Traveling for No Good Reason, won the Sheila-Na-Gig Editions competition and was published in 2018. A bilingual collection, Among the Ruins / Entre las ruinas, translated by Ximena Gomez was also published in 2018 by Katakana Editores, and individual poems have appeared in various journals, including The Threepenny Review, Salamander, Pedestal Magazine, Typishly, and Cagibi. A broadside from Broadsided Press is forthcoming in 2019, along with new poems in Into the Void and a feature in Cagibi. He also practices law in Miami and teaches poetry workshops in Florida state prisons.
2/2/2019 08:43:09 am
Wonderful, George! It doesn't get more real than "His mouth wide open as though he is
2/3/2019 02:28:58 pm
Thank you, Hayley! I love your poem in response to the Joseph Cornell challenge. "Enjoyed salt lingering on surfers’ lips" is a model of precise language--perfect image.
2/3/2019 02:35:24 pm
The story goes that Caravaggio researched this by going to see executions such as the execution of Beatrice Cenci and her brothers and her lover. It would have been much worse to be executed with a short axe or sword than one of those big movie-style axes. Took a lot more cutting. Beatrice Cenci was, as I recall, executed with a short axe.
2/3/2019 02:45:48 pm
Now, that is dedication to one's craft!
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