Today's poem is by Melissa Range

The Battle-Axe

Because not every yeoman can afford
a sword, I make myself available
for more than farm or forest chores.
I'm the hacking haft, the butchering block
capably crafted on your local anvil.
But you want a sword, because its sweep
is more genteel, because its steel attracts
more fables (if the same amount of rust),
because its vain author with his name
festooned it, because you believe a blade
a work of art instead of a cleaver,
because you distrust any handy thing
you could make yourself. Look at history:
you'll see I'm not the lesser weapon.
My forbears bade flow blood oblations
from the necks of bulls and youths;
Minoan priestesses wielded me in ritual,
Amazons (they say) in war; and war is just
another ritual, another religion,
similarly bloody, ecstatic, and tactical.
But let's be practical. I can transform
a melee into a massacre, a shield
into a heap of kindling scraps, an arm
into a lopped-off branch. And armor?
A sword does little more than scratch.
I've bisected the breastplate, hewn
the helm, and beheaded the berserker
while you're still reaching for your scabbard.
But still, you want to battle and to die
by a princely, pricey sword? That's comical.
I deal death as death should be:
commonplace, quick, and economical.

Copyright © 2009 Melissa Range All rights reserved
from New South
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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