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Dismantled ~ Canto 1

‘The darkness was suffocating,
Silent he stood, ruminating
On what he knew would soon begin,
On what he’d done and what he’d been
Which would repeat upon the bell:
A damning or redeeming knell.
Cries rose beyond the double gate
Some filled with love, but most with hate,
Cursing to death or cheering on
The warriors as they lost or won.
The stakes were high; once entertained
The crowd grew wild and unrestrained.
A thrilling hush swept through the air
And no one had a breath to spare
To stir the stillness which did wait
For the threatening sword of fate
To slay the foe or leave his life
Long enough to renew the strife.
Panting, straining, plunging – the bell
And shrieking sound of voices fell
Upon Emindor’s ears. He sighed
And knew another man had died.
But little time it took to change
The bloody sand upon the range,
After which trumpets rang a shout
Bidding the new contesters out.
The golden helmet fitted round
Emindor’s head, and with the sound
Of cheering crowds and groaning door
He stepped on the Arena floor.
Ten yards beyond the center line
Another warrior stood. The shine
Of silver plate and blue-gray eyes
Reflected the o’ershadowed skies
Foreboding rain. The Master’s rule:
Not even storms would stop the duel.
A slow, faint nod Emindor gave
To the man who might dig his grave
Or be dug for. Neither could know
‘Pon whom the Eastern wind would blow.
Their names were shouted to the crowd
And with a flourish each man bowed,
Knowing his place within the game,
Needing not hear his chanted name
Upon the tongues of the poor crew,
But cheering was all they could do.
Weapons were drawn; the sun glanced bright
Upon the gold and black-as-night
Twin blades in Emindor’s strong hands,
Linked to his wrists with leathern bands,
Stud by green gems and serpent’s gall,
Which dripped down blackened blades to fall
In little pools which dent the sand.
Upon his crest and helmet-band
Twisted the writhing forms of snakes
Encrust’ with gems and golden flakes.
The bell is rung – the fight begins;
The warriors strive like demon twins.
Blood falls and shouts of pain are heard;
Opponent’s face crushed in the dirt.
Wild screams, battle-cries, all the noise
That the blood-thirsty crowd enjoys.
Each man here knows the more he plays,
The better fights, the longer strays,
That much more chance that he or his
Opponent will be crowned with Bliss
And treated by the Master well.
Who cares to fight for Heav’n or Hell?
These men are brothers of the field,
The dripping weapons that they wield
Are slick with unshed, broken tears,
Are crusted by the many years
Of slavery wherein they’ve fought
The endless cycle they are caught
In until one or other dies
And lets his soul into the skies
Where freedom has not hunger’s burn,
Where nevermore need he return
To barracks, cells, where whips and cords
Are all the gain triumph affords.
The man is down! The silver-clad
Has tripped and fallen on his blade!
There in the bloody sand he lies
The rain falling in his blue eyes.
Over him now Emindor stands
Holding the sword in both his hands.
He meets his friend’s now peaceful eyes,
Whispers “Farewell the man who tries.”
His friend nods slow and looks away;
Emindor sends his soul away.
The cheering echoes through the storm,
Amusement of another’s harm.
Still as a stone the winner stays,
Meeting his friend’s now empty gaze,
Wishing he could turn back the clock,
Wanting to take the final knock,
Wondering if death is not free,
More free than all this fame could be.
The gladiator looks away;
Resolves to die some other day.’

Style / type: 
Structured: Western
Review Request (Intensity): 
I want the raw truth, feel free to knock me on my back
Review Request (Direction): 
How was my language use?
What did you think of the rhythm or pattern or pacing?
Is the internal logic consistent?
Last few words: 
So I have been working on this one story for at least three years now, and no matter how much prose I write on it, I cannot seem to make it sound right. Thus, I took a leap, and am now working on turning this story into a lay, ballad or epic (depending on how long it turns out to be). My greatest interest for feedback is on the logic and flow of the poem. This was very much off the top of my head with little editing, but since it will be a long story, I am actually not sure how much finesse it needs as compared to shorter, more exact poems. I am really looking for advice and perspective. I've never done a poetry project quite like this before. (and don't worry about the title 'Dismantled' there will be NO explicit or anywhere near that content in this story. XD)
Editing stage: 
Content level: 
Not Explicit Content


Thank you so much for your comment! And, yeah, I actually let my Dad read it last night and he pointed out the misspell. XD I will be updating the edited version today as I did some work on it last night.
And no problem. All is forgiven. The poem will not molder away as your eyes heal. Best wishes for recovery!
The epic will continue until my Muse gives up on it (which will probably be when everything gets interesting, sadly enough).

"To reveal art and conceal the artist is art's true aim." Oscar Wilde

author comment

Why thank you! And, actually, I will be posting the second Canto to this work today, so you shall know more of Emindor soon! What I will say here is that he is the primary hero for a story in my world, and one of my favorite characters I have ever created. A tragic hero.
And I am so glad you enjoyed. Stay tuned for Canto 2!

"To reveal art and conceal the artist is art's true aim." Oscar Wilde

author comment

only read part two before I read part one and didn't fully understand what you were looking for, I will rescind my former opinion on making the rhyme, and concentrate on helping the smoothness come through. It is hard for me to ignore the rhyme and pattern though, and maybe when you are through, you can do the edit that this will surely need. ~ Geez.

This must be the place, 'cause there ain't no place like this place anywhere near this place

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