Jo Bratten: a poem



Chiaroscuro

In the fractured dark we're all doomscrolling 

before dawn, lit up like Caravaggios:


arms stretched across burning beds,

brows trenched like Judith surveying the head


of Holofernes caught against her bright blade,

baffling our morning brains with fresh dread.


In the pale light of refrigerator dawn

we stroke our kettles, wake our computers,


watch the same horrors on bigger screens. 

Tag yourself: Salome looking away,


the unflappable crone, the white-shouldered 

executioner with pity in his lips,


the head of the prophet on the platter

lit like pearl, all played out, prophecies stopped.



Jo Bratten is a writer and teacher based in London. Originally from the USA, where she was raised off-grid on a farm in eastern Ohio, Jo moved to the UK to complete a PhD at the University of St Andrews and somehow never left. Her poetry has appeared in Ambit, Ink Sweat & Tears, The Interpreter's House, Mechanics’ Institute Review and Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal amongst others and her first pamphlet is currently under construction.