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David with the Head of Goliath (1609)

They fled Rome, condemned.
Ranunccio Tomassoni bled
from the femoral
artery. Their portrait is

what’s invisible,
an acronym
re: humility in
Psalm 33, St. Augustine’s. . .

The killer painted them
together, a capital sentence.

Revenge wound;

An ugly passion.
I prefer a cold mind,
his self-portrait


embarrassingly visceral.
Below the groin
the blade. The blade
a contemplation


of the grave between
shepherd and convict,

lovers. To Colonna,
Caravaggio and Cecco

as orgasm from grief.
Their crime
a duel—becco fottuto.




As he walked,
Genet’s smirking “doomed Apollo”

riposted, at the gallows,
how numerous
you are at my disposal, mon
petit lever
. Closed fist, opened face;
a fraud. Hot milk, drizzled rum,

before the twinkling decapitation

machine left its impression. . .
A mist. He would remove
his wristwatch for his lawyer.
“They can’t refuse cigarettes

anymore. Life is great. Finally!”
Grim service, a harpsichord
maker from Strausberg
first crafted an automatic
cleaver with musical precision
in 1792; Nicolas Jacques Pelletier,
a public debut. (Spectators
at Place de Grève would boo, cheated

of their torturous afternoon.)

Contempt, nothing new:
A thief draped
in cloth and livestock
tethered, in 1286, across
the Halifax Gibbet, a celebrity;
The terror of Robespierre?
A courtroom souvenir.
In sepia, louche—
by gendarmes,
our homeless escort. His book’s

initials and dates, evidence
of a john/tourist’s throat
he’d cut. The Mexican,
Escudero, a night’s work.

Trade. Maurice Pilorge,
le condemné.
The last guillotine in Rennes.






Miguel Murphy

Pronouns: He/Him

2 Poems

David with the Head of Goliath (1609)



Miguel Murphy (he/him) is the author most recently of Shoreditch, his third collection of poetry. He lives in Southern California where he teaches as Santa Monica College.

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