The Last Song of Orpheus

My head is ripped from my shoulders.
My blood stains the river red.
A broken toy that the gods no longer wish to play with.
I am dead. Are you happy now?
Are you satisfied, dark lord of shades,
So cold you weep tears of black iron
With your pale, silent queen who shrieked through your first embrace?
This is your revenge against me,
I who made your realm tremble to the roots
Who made the sinners cease their suffering and the Furies leave their whips.
Fierce Cerebus lay down at my feet like a tame puppy
Six eyes closed and dripping poison as he purred.
I fought your godly strength with neither sword nor fire
And you allowed hooded Charon to ferry back a mortal with a clipped thread.
(I remember your dark sailor bore me over the cold water for a penny song.
Do you hate me for that too?)
The stones themselves shook off their moss and moved close.
Even the restless dead stopped their quiet whispering.
You could never forgive me for that.
Now you’ve proven beyond doubt
It only takes one savage to break the sweetest lyre that ever played,
Only one crazed mob to rend a singer limb from limb.
Did you laugh, mirthless one, when the madwomen tossed my head to and fro
Giggling like drunken schoolgirls at their gruesome play?
You have proven that I die,
But this shattered lyre, this severed head, these cold lips
Are still singing.

Back to Poetry