when heracles had killed the birds and the snake,
he came home a legend with a nemean head.
the people called him hero, cheered his name
and the sages promised that all had been repaid.
when heracles had wrangled the deer and the boar,
he came home looking for the life he had once led.
eurystheus had loosed his chains, settled his score
but his wife stayed buried and his children lay dead.
when heracles had fetched the apples and the dog,
he came home expecting Hera long appeased.
he learned instead that Her sins remained his wrongs
and a hero cannot redeem a tragedy.
when heracles had scrubbed the stables sparkling clean,
he came home and then went right back to war.
he remembered that his greek legends and elysian dreams
had all been hard won with blood he spilled before.