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Hoplite

I once observed a man

turn down a drink

with a careful wave

and a too-sincere

“I’ve fought my way out before;”

and he shall again.

If it weren’t that I, too

have embattled golden calves

and slid my hands upward along them,

brought to bear my reflection

in the golden navel,

I might have forgiven him.

Even all my renegades

round the flame that

snaps into unclouded skies,

at least they, flickering,

are not yet maimed.

Disappear instead, into drink and dress

and ride your mare

to the wilderness.

This is courage.


“And the brave among them face death,

when they do,

for fear of great evils?”


Yes.


Were I a hoplite with a golden shield

I’d forged from my mistakes,

and a mighty field

of fairground pleasures

arrayed before me

raised their spears,


I’d dance and dance and drink my fill

of blood, of wine, of fear, of skill.

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