The Poet’s Curse (a poem)

You humiliated the Netherworld Poet, and now you

must pay – the only way to avoid his curse is to

sacrifice the first-born son in your wife’s womb.

The Netherworld Poet cackles like a hyena on these

arid plains of this sun-soaked frontier – you dared

to question his knowledge of the tribe and kingdom

that is your birthright to one day lead.

You turn to the Sun god to exact your revenge –

but the bare-chested deity sits in silence

on his throne, telling you that you’ve made a fatal

mistake that even He cannot reverse.

You remember all this now, as you crawl in the vast

desert with chapped lips that bleed into an aching mouth –

the kingdom is gone, the family buried

in pauper’s fields, and you are an exile – your malnourished

body wastes away in the golden sand of Netherworld,

another victim of the Poet’s curse.

(Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash)

Note: I was inspired to write this poem based on a story I read in a book of Celtic mythology. In Ireland and Scotland, poets held a high official rank in society and memorized royal family genealogies and other important histories and tales. Some of them were also known to place dreaded curses on those who crossed them.

Here’s an idea for a writing prompt: Write a short story or poem based on a poet’s curse. It could be in ancient times, like from a Celtic bard, or a modern-day poet using supposed pagan powers. Enjoy!

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