December 31st, 2010


This may be the last of the Orpheus sequence


The one condition Hades had laid down
seemed all too simple. There must be some trick.
No monsters chasing – Orpheus got to pick
his path back to the world. This was the crown

of his achievement – he had sung in Hell
and won a boon. And yet he could not trust
the god of shades, and punishment and dust,
not to deceive him, not to try to sell

him some cloud Eurydice, some fake
that melts or kills. And yet he walked and sang
and listened to the footsteps. And they rang
quite false, and so he looked. For Hell will take

your fear and make the real thing seem the cheat
You trick yourself – your doubt Hell's sole deceit.

Afterwards self-contempt the sharpest pain.
He wished that he could do it all again

And get it right. Not see her walk away
looking at him with pity, gentle scorn
' you could not help it dear – for you were born
flawed because human. Now go back to day'

She said. And the affection in her speech
was worse than scorn because it hurt his pride.
He realized that ever since she died
he had assumed her death would somehow teach

him some great wisdom. And he'd learned instead
poets can harrow hell, force gods, yet lose.
We choose our words. Mistakes we also choose.
His best was not enough. She was still dead.

Somehow this one didn't get posted here


All of his songs are air – not even dust.
Gone where no echo ever brings sound back
into forgetfulness. And so we pack
worship into that emptiness. We trust

his name alone, without his words or songs.
First was the best, we say, and hope we lie
but fear it true. Poets, musicians die
with envy in their hearts. To him belongs

all praise. In the beginning was the word?
No, music first? For him no such debate,
the will to know truth, knowing to create,
and sing as pure and simple as a bird.

And all is lost. It's that wound drives us on-
with poem or song to remake what is gone.