Sonnets For Orpheus
Who'll sing for Orpheus now in this inferno,
Walking pavements filmed with oil like flame
Smears iridescent in a gutter, streaks of petrol rainbow
On the rain-streamed tarmac? Who will shame
Self-righteous hellions with their leather book
Skinned from lamented Tammuz, lit with stolen fire?
Go on! Wash in His blood, you bleating servants of the Crook;
The Shepard bound to split-rail fence is my messiah.
Fuck all the gods; you let your temples lie in waste.
Saint Dionysus! Where's your pecker now? You would allow
Your stolen name to mock a painted copy of your face?
Maybe this mouthy cunt will raise your green and golden bough.
So. I will sing for the head of a dead poet from his body ripped,
Give voice to the mute mouthings of his bloated lips.
Muses, as Bacchae, tear my flesh apart.
Muses, as Furies, feast upon my heart.
Muses, as Fates, spin, weave and clip my mind.
Muses, as Horae, give me one season to define,
I'll sing the new reign of Orpheus Rex.
I'll sing of the vine, the grain, the salt, and sex.
I'll sing you my soul. I'll open up and bleed.
Muses, as Graces, all I ask -- give me the charms I need
To celebrate the flesh as word
And elegise the soul as broken bird
In simple tongue as sung upon the street.
Give this poor faggot your bright flames to feed.
Muses, if you still hold Apollo dear,
For Orpheus his priest, just whisper in my ear.
Some blame the Thracian Bacchae for his death;
Others say Zeus, for mysteries revealed,
For secrets slipped out on a poet's breath,
Murdered the man, to keep the truth concealed.
Surely, I say, the King of Gods is not so cruel!
Surely, I say, the God of Kings can suffer singing fools!
What sort of threat to Him was Orpheus's lyre?
Only the greatest, motherfuckers, since a lightbringer's theft of fire.
I say the bloody tyrant's reign is done.
I say humanity is king when Orpheus's song is sung.
As Heaven fell to the scythe of Time, and Time to Light,
So when the truth is told, His Glory shines like shite.
Orpheus, my Marlowe, Lorca, harrower of Hell,
What did you learn from Death He wouldn't let you tell?
How many souls feeding on ash in the houses of the dead
Lived as they died, in poverty, with dust for bread
And ragged sraps for skin, while TV vultures dined
On their vicious pity -- Faith and Hope and Charity divine?
How many souls naked except for crow-black feathers
Screech in that dirt of Hell, trapped in the terror of forever,
Because one quill, white -- as from an angel's wing --
Sent them to glory in the Somme, to die for Christian king?
How many souls, burning and burning and burning now,
How many queers of Sodom, whores of Babylon must bow
And crawl and beg forgiveness, beg for mercy, beg for their lives,
To a God of Love? Would that be the infinite Love -- of man and wife?
Did Orpheus, seeing these horrors, sing for Eurydike alone?
Or was the heart he met with harder even than the dancing stone?
I walk through the stench of slaughterhouse -- a tanner's yard --
The reek of piss and sulphurous oxide, on my way to work.
Incontinents and rotten eggs -- aye, I remember from the kirk;
The smell of weak will and corruption inside puts me on my guard.
We must learn lessons from the past, my gays, gypsies and Jews.
Never forget they'll make your home your grave
Once it's their Homeland, free of the brave.
Here at the end of Enlightenment, Dark Ages start anew
And with no Heaven overhead stilll they can make our world a Hell
Again -- halls full of shoes, and spectacles, false teeth,
Hide of humanity skinned from we beasts,
Their incense rising with their prayers. Zyklon-B, I call that smell.
Fanned by angelic wings, the clouds of strife unfurl,
So I must sing of an Orpheus who walks this world.
Words fired from the hip,
Fuck spurting from the lips,
One little finger I do flip,
Two fingers as another quip.
Song spitting my disdain,
Cunt burning in my brain,
I scorn the hellfire and the pain.
Damnation's end is my refrain.
Rock cracking to his song,
Love smashing Right and Wrong,
He'll break the hearts of weak and strong
And Death himself will sing along.
Here is my Orpheus, his severed head held high,
His tongue as lethal as Medusa's eyes.
Open your gates and let the spirits talk with me.
Open your gates and let the suffering shades walk free.
Open a bottle. Let the spirits flow in streams.
We will have no more Hell, no more sad dreams.
This is my answer to all critics and all scorn:
I sing for Death and not for you; my song is torn
From sorrow and I will not cease
Until the pious, pure only in hate, offer true peace.
No parables, no platitudes, no prayers.
Strip off those lies and stand before me bare
The truth of loss, the honest end of days.
Life has a cost: two pennies we all pay.
Then might I listen, without laughing, to your rules.
Till then I dance and drink to Orpheus, his fool.
Order emerging out of chaos, Orpheus taught,
A simple cosmogony the world forgot
In its romance with one God and His Law,
Two thousand years of his almighty shock and awe.
Two thousand years to win back what we've lost,
And every heretic burnt at the stake the cost
Of this division into sinners in Hell and saints in Heaven.
Two thousand years. Now hear the voice of Orpheus, his vision.
Listen; can you not hear his song still in the silence,
Echoed, in corridors of might, down centuries of violence:
A lacunae, the pause of a lion poised to spring;
The hum in your heart, his lyre's still resonant strings.
Even with Orpheus dead his rhythm lives on in the stone.
His tune still plays on the ivory flutes of every human bone.
Hush. In the forests of the dawn,
Rustling the leaves with hoof and horn --
A yawn -- rising on legs unsteady as a fawn,
Pan wakes! And to the song of Orpheus he's drawn.
Look. Three Arcadian shepherds find a tomb.
Flashlights of archaeologists sweep the gloom.
Apollo notes his new audience with a nod, resumes
His drumbeat on Marsyas's stretched skin. A slow doom doom.
Pan and Apollo -- who else shall we raise
From sleep amongst the hyacinths and narcissi of lost days?
What other queers and heroes, gods and gays?
Let's rouse Endymion from his drowsy haze...
Send him to Artemis, lure down the hunter of the stars
To pluck not on her bow but on a steel guitar.
Now, Dionysus, wipe that Christian plaster from your face
And in the frescoes of the Vatican and every chapel
Shine through from beneath tempera lies, reclaim your place,
God of the fruits, green garlanded in vines. Reclaim that golden apple
For forbidden Adams who would fuck an Yves.
Let us taste naked flesh and truth; no false disgrace
Of shame and sin, no hiding cocks and cunts with leaves.
Let us recover the sexual idyll of our race.
Take back your stolen sunburst, Helios, and wear
It with the pride these humble hypocrites deny
In mockery of modesty. My sky-eyed god of golden hair,
Their righteous arrogance their humble words belie.
Now, a new sun rises, proud as the morning glory of a cock.
Now Orpheus sings again, song shattering Prometheus's rock.
The panic of popes and priests is sweet song to my ears,
Child-raping charlatans who have defiled
The temples of our bodies and our minds, all driven wild
With lusts unleashed after two thousand years.
Throw more decrees! Slam shut and bolt each door!
The song of Orpheus roars inside your blood.
It is humanity, this sensual mire of flesh and mud.
You curse it, priests. It's you who chose this war.
How proud! How pitiful and proud, the pomp of men
Who'd bury our Apollo and cage Dionysus in a saint,
Outrage a sleeping Pan. The song of Orpheus, even faint,
Will never die, but will live on in flesh and rise again.
Can you not see wounds healing? Gone, the maggots of your lies!
Scabs crumble now, revealing -- yes -- the opening of Orpheus's eyes.
This is the song of Orpheus, this:
A song of blood and spit and piss;
A song of sacred cunts and cocks;
A song sung in the bars and docks;
A song of faggots and of whores;
A song more holy and more pure
Than any cant of righteous zeal
Blind as the dead to what the living feel.
This is the song of love and death.
This is the song of those two thieves of breath.
This is the song of how a heart can break and swell.
This is the song of how the living go to Hell.
This is the song of Orpheus, a song unbound by time.
This is a song bound only by the lover's rhythm and the poet's rhyme.