Victory descends onto the sun set bow of my warworn ship,

bringing the night’s comfort

On her feathered, rocky wings.

And says of a battle in which she has taken no part,

“You’ve won.”


Weary, I kneel on the deck

below her pedestal;

My legs greaved;

My arms braced;

My chest cuirass-constricted;

My fingers gnarly-wrapped around my failing spear.


“I am yours,” she says,

And she gives herself to me as a harlot would,

But I cannot pay her price.

Unarmed, she invites me to lay down my arms,

amid peaceful promises,

And yet I hold my shield.


“Peace,” she whispers hotly into my ear,

As she caresses my body with one hand,

while the other draws along my spear.

“Let your vestments fall away,

and I will take you to Elysium.”


The moon, now overhead,

Beams brightly upon my shield,

Lighting its fading inscription:

Till the light of day.


I rise before the headless goddess,

And she takes flight.

The helmsman points the bow toward the dawning sun,

And I stand infirm upon the deck,

readying to stay the hands of fleeting victory.


© J. Manuel



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