Old Galrug, a Dragon Ballad

by Thomas Davis

Deep in the swamp inside a cave,
Inside obsidian
That rises shining from the mud
Beneath a midnight sun,
Old Galrug sits and broods about
When dragons have to run

From puny men so small and ugly
And insignificant
That dragons ought to have the strength
To breathe long flames and let the brunt
Of greatness cause a scurrying
By frightened, cowering runts.

But in the gloaming wilds where forests
Loom high above the ground,
Old Galrug, feasting on a stag,
Was startled by the sounds
Of horses jangling through the woods
And turned, his rage unbound.

His nostrils streamed with smoke and flame;
He roared alive the world.
The leading knight came charging through
The trees and swung and hurled
A shining strand of woven rope
Abruptly, swiftly curled

Around Old Galrug’s swaying neck.
His rage transformed to fright
As other knights came charging, ropes
Strung over ropes, winged flight
Impossible as yet more ropes
Bound wings to body, tight.

The knights drew swords and brandished them
As horses charged his flank.
The biting of the gnats drew blood.
He writhed his body, shrank
Away from blow that followed blow.
His raging mind grew blank.

As slashes, pricks of sharpened swords
Sucked life through grievous wounds,
He slashed his tail in his fear
And ripped his body from the goons
Surrounding him and ran into the forest’s
Twilit, welcome gloom–

And as he ran he shed the ropes
That bound his wings and tied
Him to the ground where men were loud
With rage and cursed his hide
And forced their frightened horses forward,
Hearts bent on dragoncide.

He flexed his wings and struggled up
Into the heavy air,
Blood flowing from his dozen wounds.
The cries of men’s despair
A music ringing in his ears,
He flew toward his lair.

But now, inside his cave, he brooded, thought
About the dragons killed
In wars as old as dragon-kind—
The way men gathered, filled
Themselves with dreams of bravery
And dragons’ heartbeats stilled.

Why did so many have to die?
He asked himself. He thought
About the solitary paths
That dragons always sought,
Protecting human gold and other wealth
Their wiles and cunning bought.

Our solitude is killing us,
He thought. It is our flaw.
Inside obsidian he blazed
Frustration as he saw
His weakness lay inside his self.
He gnashed his massive jaws

And spread his massive purple wings
And breathed his stomach’s fire
Into his throat and, wounded, sick,
Displayed his dreadful ire
By roaring at a midnight sun,
Expressing his desire

To end the plague of human brains
That worked to end his kind
And make the world a better place
For human hearts and minds
So they could live their sentience
While dragon life declined.

As fires built deep inside his belly,
He spread his purple wings
And launched into the sun-weird night,
His rage a dragon scream
That had no mind, no hope, no aim
Except destruction’s sting.

He flew inside his red-eyed pain
Until he found a human place.
He shrieked from skies, a shaft of hate
That hurtled, clawing grace
Into the humans screaming, running
As lives were smashed, erased.

Exulting in his power, hate,
Old Galrug tried to roll
Away from ground that loomed too fast,
But as he turned, the toll
Of injuries inside his hatred bled
A flaming aureole,

Filmed over eyes abruptly blind,
And struck into his hearts
As pain became the universe,
And life became a part
Of some lost dream that dragons dream
As life, at last, departs.

The dragon crashed into the ground
And wailing shivered skies
And dying humans reveled at the ending
Old Galrug faced, his cries,
Malevolence, now blind
As, wracked with pain, he died.

1 Comment

Filed under Poetry, Thomas Davis

One response to “Old Galrug, a Dragon Ballad

  1. “Old Galrug”, the dragon: fully excellent, worth reading more than twice…

    Double, double toil and trouble
    Fire burn and cauldron bubble–

    When the Hurley-burley’s done
    When the battle’s lost and won–

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