Thursday, June 9, 2011

POEM: More Than Twelve Legions

Trained for two thousand years, we stood
Sweat dripping from our arms, our fingers
Clenched whitely on our sword pommels
Eyes starting from our heads, legs tight.

More than sixty thousand of us waited in formation
Bodies burning white like lightning in the sun
Longing for the instant command to jump
To flash into battle in that distant dusty land

Where our best captain stood all alone
Surrounded by idiots, who spit and slapped at him
Who whipped and cursed him like dogs,
Who teased him with unspeakable tortures.

He had the walkie-talkie, planted invisibly
In his ear. He had not lost his voice.
Then why his silence? All we could hear
Was laughter and shouting, and women's sobs

And suddenly our captain screamed.
We tensed, swords half drawn, eyes on fire
But we only heard the chink of hammer on iron spike
And then the words: "Father, forgive them."

I will never forget that longest day
And the faces of my fellow soldiers in those hours
Anger and agony and confusion in the ranks
We would destroy the world but he would save it.