A gladiator remembers

They say it’s for the gods, a holy rite
to honor the ancestors, but
they lie.  We sweat, bleed, die, while
they sell sweets in the stands.
We kill each other in
the sand for fools
who don’t know
our true
names.

I had a woman, a child, a home,
in the woods above the singing
stream, with barley in the fields.
We planted in the spring,
reaped the corn in
the fall, and drank
strong beer as
the snow
fell.

The chiefs said the Romans were weak, soft.
They lied, and ran away when the
Romans cut us off, drove us
to the river. Lucky
the drowned, first to greet
Wotan the great.
Luck left me.
Taken.
Slaved.

Far away, both years and stadia.
The heat, the sand, the stench of blood
and shit, these are real to me now.
The crowd’s screams, blood-hungry,
the song of my life.
All I will hear
until I
die here,
lost.

Yet I remember, though it’s like a
child’s dream, foolish, sweet, unreal– I
had a woman, a child, a
home, in the woods above
the singing stream,
with barley
in the
fields.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s