Weekly Poem #201

Trial

A painful, seizing jolt running up the inside of the thigh,

A courtyard forms a canal for heavy, thrashing, boiling waves,

Hammering through his ribs again and again, eroding them

Until a naked nervous system quivers like a bundle of subdued lightning bolts.

This is real fear, fear with teeth, a huge, closed jaw towering over him,

An iron door slowly creaking agape, the airlock opening to the silent vacuum.

Feet cast in manacles, bruised shoulders wrapped in blighted garb

And a set of spear-tips leaning forwards behind him, blocking his escape.

Forward marching, slow awkward steps like a timid, broken animal

Being gently encouraged into the slaughterhouse and readied for death.

The rafters are packed with onlookers but the room feels empty as the void,

Eyes more like the hooded glow of sunlight struggling to negotiate morning fog,

Impotent, and devoid of all comfort, signal flares leading to the stand, the end.

To be told again and again that you’re a creature of legend, someone to be feared,

A man with so many skulls rattling about his ankles that they could form a pedestal,

Now so overcome with dread that he can barely even stand, let alone sit.

This is how legends end, shivering in the wake of new unfamiliar laws, miles from home,

In the grip of a nation he fought so hard to save his countrymen from, that he gave his all to defeat,

“More cruel than Herod”, someone had said. “Robber” “Thief” “Arsonist” “Murderer”

Names which hang heavy around his neck as the sweat pulls the blue shades of pride from his brow.

Given no occasion to speak, no chance to defend his actions or exercise his rights, he has none.

This was no law, this was theatre, parading the pantomime villain out for one last jeer

Before dragging him out by his ankles and strapping him to horses for the grand, gruesome finale,

Where every once of his flesh would be torn from the other, tarnished and destroyed until nothing remained.

The charges read, all the victories twisted as acts of malice, even as acts of treason,

He tries to speak out against that last accusation, voice failing somewhere deep in his battered chest

But the rafters erupt and his denials are drowned, before the final sentence drips from the judge’s sopping maw.

Stripped naked and dragged back out into the town he watches the doors close again, hears them slam,

The last sound that manages to find his mind before the cries of the mob envelop it, devour it.

Heels catching on cobbled ground, limbs shaking, eyes hollowed, noose awaited. This is how legends end.

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