o1faovke

Atop that sandy pit he stood,
his steel traded for leaf and wood.
Cheering maelstrom swirled around him,
only his heartbeat broke the din.
Qui palmam meruit ferat.

Proud ego, a moment before,
had stoked that awful awful roar
as his challenger growled ahead,
a stoic lion, herald of the dead.

The beast bellowed a primal threat,
eyes agleam, maw red and wet.
He flashed his sword, he beat his shield,
he stood his ground, he'd never yield!

Each charged the other, and collided
their fate in the sand still undecided
till on the other sides of the dusty cloud,
the combatants emerged, to the joy of the crowd.

Lion stood, though sorely battered,
flaxen mane rent utterly tattered,
and the gladiator on the other side,
brass shield long gone, helmet cock-eyed.

The stands cheered, "end it!" they cried,
exits sealed till someone died.
He dragged his sword through the beaten dust,
he'd strangle the curse'd beast, if he must.

Blood darkened the golden fur,
but only he could hear the purr
of a noble creature accepting death,
and forgiving him with final breath.

The crowds applauded, though he balked,
in hushed voices his ego talked
Had he taken a helpless soul?
Were life and death his to control?

Atop that sandy pit he stood,
his steel traded for leaf and wood.
Cheering maelstrom swirled around him,
only his heartbeat broke that din.
Qui palmam meruit ferat.

He who bears the palm must earn it.

Written: Tue Jan 17 2017