A lot of girls, they write about Judith. They like the blood, they like the oil, the severed shadows, how her muscles barely flex, but still she looks so strong
There’s an impossibility for you
Just like how I tell myself if I looked at that painting long enough, there’d be a murder of men all rolling red and headless around me
You didn’t like my fundamentals. This wasn’t supposed to be a break-up poem. Usually you’re crawling by this point, but this time feels different. Is different. Where’s the apology, its moulting petals, the rip of pink shoved through the letterbox, the shop-bought card where you list your faults?
A lot of girls are writing about Judith. I’m writing about her eyes rolled back like, ha ha, fucker, as if that’s how it feels to kill a guy, and sure, I’d believe that. I’m not talking about you though, trust me. But the other ones, they fill the canvas even when I try to blank it out. It smells of turps in here. It smells like burnt hair. It smells like hot blood, blood reduction, syrup, rust.
I’m running home (except I’m not, that’s just how I’d want you to imagine it) and tears are ripping through the air and my shoe is caked in dog shit and my long, long coat is muddy at the hem, and I’m getting over it. My body is unseeable, my hair is wild and I could shapeshift if I wanted, and in this dream I am a wonderful painter, too
Well I guess you could fuck me like that like sweet Sandrine pulling the tail out of her bag and saying have you ever tried this? So she could parade me around like a fox, wan and mangy, limping on the dual carriageway at night watching the pigeons eat the bones of other birds or dragging a black bin bag between my haunches
And dirty Isaac with his speculum, who told me milk is PH neutral no harm in that, he laughed tightening the cords
All I do is dream of eating, and lie in sap or get a freezer burn from some steel bench but really it's so pretty in the future the whole earth matted, fertile you can almost see the viscous trails from outer space and taste it so metallic
I’ve got to keep my iron up, you see I’ve got to grab you by the ears and tell you this is why I wear a collar
Alanna McArdle is from London. Her work has appeared in Pilot Press’ Modern Queer Poets, Prelude Magazine, Poems in Which, and Structo Magazine, among others. Her short story “Butter” was shortlisted for the 2018 Desperate Literature prize, and her debut pamphlet ‘split ends’ was published by Makina Books in January 2020.
This week’s illustrations are by Esme Blegvad (@esmerelduh), a self-taught artist from London. She was a staff illustrator at Rookie Magazine and has drawn comics and illustrations for Vice, Polyester Zine and the Poetry Review, among others. She also makes hand-drawn animations, and memes focused around the 1997 blockbuster masterpiece of modern cinema, Titanic.