By Thomas L. Shak

And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man, of Kabzeel, who had done many acts, he slew two lionlike men of Moab: he went down also and slew a lion in the midst of a pit in time of snow: — 2 Samuel 23:20

Petrified Man, treading soft through the snow,
Have you already gone as far as you’ll go?
Ever the grip on the rudder of state
Guiding the ship ‘til you can consummate
The Holy Alliance that governs your station
By bloody assassination and divine coronation.
Once you trod boldly, with vigor and might,
But the Hand that writes history hangs heavy tonight.

Cowardly Lion, left bereft in the snow,
Spirits sinking as low as the tar pits will go.
All of your species are heirs of that spirit
Of candidates for the honor of a life ever-lit
By the flames of your forbears, the cheers of your young,
But light burns so meekly in your cold-air-filled lungs.

Man of sorrows, acquainted with doubt,
Now deaf to the cry of that ancestral shout,
Which hallows your history, awakens your pride.
Yet the rattle of battles rings hollow inside.
The past is insufficient for this Man drawing breath.
His hands twitch, anxious for a life before death.

Beast of our burdens, symbol of strength,
Now sprawled like a corpse across the whole length
Of a hollow in the valley of empty deceit
Where the trials of Time chip away at your heat.
Have the prophecies of sophists and cynics come true?
Is there somehow not Telos in this world left for you?

But God powders mercies on the proud and the poor
And beckons the Spirit to fill them once more.

Every Man treads a path that must come to an end
And this Soldier, stock still in the powder white sand
Looked down on his fate as a spark shocked his husk.
A monster was stirring, and there in the dusk
With eyes like the coming of judgment divine,
Visceral and vital was the massive feline.

The Beast sensed his movement and rose.
Mixed trembling of power and fear as he goes
From the repose of the pit to the pose of war.
And the symphony of senses erupts in a score
Of unparalleled vigor and dazzling delight,
As their eyes met like lightning on that still winter night.

The clang of the spear meets the shock of the roar,
And the combatants commence quenching that thirst for more
Than the trappings of modernity can ever provide.
A hope kept close is kept unsatisfied.
The Warriors assume their eternal stance,
Like actors, play their part in a timeless romance,

Where the soldier may glisten, the lion may prance
And come all at once to that singular chance
To live fully in friction, to live in spite of fright,
To revel in the beauty of an auspicious night
Where Man and his Beast, as siblings, may fight
And move the divine Hand of history to write.

Published by Thomas L. Shak

Thomas L. Shak is a poet, a scholar, and would like to be thought a gentleman.

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