deepundergroundpoetry.com

Gladiators

You think you know what our last nights were like
before we were by splintered staves
compelled, arena bound,
to cry our Aves out and chant
and bitter taste the oath of morituri te salutant
before the fat faced laureled ones who hold
our lives within their hands,
who come and drool like rabid dogs
to see us hack and cut and spill our lives
upon the vampire sand.

But have you ever felt the leathered pinch upon
your skin of brassard’s harness in the heat,
the weight of  greaves upon your legs,
the breath depriving clutch the balteus
encircling your waist cuts in your flesh?

Have you known the desperation seeping like
a winter’s fireless night throughout the prayers
that we, the chattel doomed, the butchers’ rack of meat,
at daybreak make to Ares, Nike,
all the gods, some nameless still,
the fortunes and the fates,
to keep us safe from net, and spear, and raking gladii

Do you know we piss ourselves
before invoking all the blessed ones divine?

You speak of joys of drinking courage making heady wine.
But you’re naive.  You're blind.
You do not know the wine
they give to us to slake our thirst,
to pour libations out as we ascend the chute,
is vinegar and makes us puke.

You speak some garbled words of how
we’ve little care to have our gladiator lives prolonged
beyond this day.

I dare you, boy, come with us now and face,
the choking clouds of dust, the sour smells
of all the excrement from those who shit their underclothes
when, trident pierced and sword dispatched, they died,
the jeering crowds, the scorning vicious hate filled cries
the lacerating death awaiting us.
Let’s then see what you might say.
Written by Baldwin
Published
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