For Pate Southerland
(Swans - January 14, 2013)
The cavalry has assembled across the silent vale.
Above them an army of insurgents drifts across the mountain.
The cavalry will engage them among the primrose and the heather.
They will not yield the land that is theirs,
their children's, and all their children's heirs.
They will defend the meadows, rivers, pastures, rills,
the houses, forts and churches unto their oaken doors.
Sunlight nimbly dances on their flashing swords like diamonds;
their horses' flaring nostrils spout steam into the mist.
Down the mountain's stony slope the foreign army slithers;
their chieftain strides before them shouting words of slander.
They want the knights' wives, mothers, sisters, daughters.
They will take them from the village in a massive ominous wave.
They descend into the valley, a dark and cumbrous shroud,
and like a swarm of locusts charge the band of knights.
The horsemen remain steady, resolute in their courage,
then suddenly move forward, slowly in their gait.
Gathering speed they split and race like gales past the soldiers,
peel off in two swift arcs like hawks on wings of flight.
The infantry is stunned, lost in the distraction;
as a third legion of cavaliers emerges from the glen.
All three in perfect union descend upon the throng,
brandish swords of silver that blaze in autumn's light.
Straight through the men they ride like burnished bolts of lightning
wielding lofty lances now stained with soldiers' blood.
Survivors flee like sparrows. The knights do not pursue them;
defense of home and family is victory sweet enough.
Honor, faith and bravery are the banners raised to sky.
Power reined by mercy is their shield on plains of war.
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About the Author
John M. Marshall is the founder and editor of Epiphany Arts, Cape Fear Poetry Society, and various poetry sites. He has received several writing awards. His poetry has been published in the U.S. (including Swans) and seven other countries. Marshall lives in Wilmington, North Carolina. (back)