At least once every generation
the hewn but living head of Orpheus
pauses mid-song to spare a thought
to his body, still winding its way
among Europe’s ganglion of rivers.
No animal would touch such offal—
a heart flanged in concertina wire,
lungs pumped with mustard gas
from the Somme, kidneys fattened
with lead. There is a hole in the gut
where the Ciconian women scooped
his entrails as if hollowing a pumpkin.
A ring of teeth have grown in this gash,
& where there are teeth, appetite surely
follows. This living maw is always open,
waiting for something to swim inside, or
for a hand, offered freely, to reach in,
& then the maw will snap shut.
& wherever Orpheus’s head is, he will
pause mid-song, to smile & lick his lips
with their sweet residue of antifreeze,
& then on with the next verse.
Bio: Jonathan Louis Duckworth received his MFA from Florida International University. His fiction, poetry, and non-fiction appears in or is forthcoming in New Ohio Review, Fourteen Hills, Meridian, Tupelo Quarterly, Jabberwock Review, Superstition Review, and elsewhere.