Published on Academy of American Poets (

Nocturne: Beheaded

for Thapelo Makutle

All throat now      already brighter than the stars.

I could hold you in my song. Sotto voce, tremble

against me: a breeze slips in, cools my blood

to garnet      bed stained with stones, cold and finally

useless            I Orpheo,       I lyre.  Down river, even damned

with hum, there is room for your cry in my mouth       Sweet,

sweet sotto voce, I sang your moan until       the machete

swung      then I kept singing. I eyeless,      I eternal.

The guards hold blades to the sky and cut the dark open.

Do you hear me raining        from the wound? My tongue

is a kingdom       You live there.


Copyright © 2014 by Saeed Jones. Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database


Saeed Jones

Saeed Jones is the author of Prelude to Bruise (Coffee House Press, 2014), a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist and winner of the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry.

Date Published: 2016-04-28

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