15. Ending Dragon Community

an epic poem by Thomas Davis

Inside the conclave’s cavern elders sat
Upon the great, stone ledge, their eyes so bright
The darkness near them whorled with colored lights.
Ssruanne, her spirit broken by the chaos
Of dragons violating rules set down
To let community replace the greed
And singularity of dragonkind,
Joined song with Mmirimann as elders strove
To calm the storm as dragons fled from caves
Into the bitter cold of winter skies.

Wwilliama, feeling that her words had caused
The chaos when she’d let her fear of humans
Subdue her sentience, worked hard to meld
Her spirit’s song to all the others’ songs,
The elder’s unity the sanity
That could undo the madness firing hearts
With ancient hate and rage, the skies alive
With vengeance borne on frantic dragon wings.

At last they found Sshruunak’s black rage, the fear
Inside his hearts so dark it made him blind
To everything he’d learned of dragon lore.
They felt him hurtling toward two humans
Beside a fire that burned against the cold.
Ssruanne sent songs of peace and calm through skies
To where his fierce-some rage was uncontrolled.
The elder song inside the cavern rose
Into a symphony of power filled
With whirling eyes and hearts that tried to mend
The great black dragon’s rage and mindless fear.
The cavern echoed with the voices drawn
From dragon chests and massive vocal chords.

They felt the violation of the truce
Made with the human Clayton, King of Tryon.
They felt an arrow burn into Shruunak’s dark eye
And felt the burning agony of human skin
Seared by the fire of dragon breath and rage.
Their song intensified, past who they were.
Sshruunak turned, hurtled at the humans’ stone shield
Until the hunter jumped from hiding:
Another arrow, burning agony.
Flames wrapped the hunter in its searing shroud,
His pain, Sshruunak’s pain echoing a war
Into the cavern counterpoint to what
The elders had been sending out through skies.

The elders’ wings flared out and made a wind
Inside the cavern sweeping out through tunnels
Into the caves where dragons, not yet stained
By fear, confusion, rage, were pacing, troubled
By what had changed their lives so suddenly.
The males, spread out along the mountains’ slopes,
Sensed pain enveloping Sshruunak, felt wind
Inside the tunnels and the safe, dark caves.
Sshruunak fled humans and their deadly arrows;
The concave elders strove to turn to order,
To end the stirring of a world enraged.

“The peace is done,” said Mmirrimann. “The dragons
And humans know the taste of blood again.”

His words destroyed the elders’ song and plunged
The cavern deep in dark intense enough
To spread across the winter of the earth.

Ssruanne slumped on the eldest dais.
Inside the darkness of her spirit, small,
She felt the witch’s child and saw her hands
Create a golden dragon’s scale and burn
It into flesh, transforming human flesh.

Before the peace all dragonkind had faced
Eventual decline into extinction.
The young males thought that dragonkind could win
Against the tides of human machinations.
They knew their strength and did not understand
That war was more than strength or dragon will.
Shruunak had breached the truce, and now? She shuddered.

“What now?” she asked as Mmirimann stared blankly
At cavern darkness. “Wisdom still exists.”

“The witch’s child is dead,” the dragon mourned.
“I felt your vision, saw the withering
If rage was loosed into the world again.
Shruunak’s a hero now inside the caves.
He’ll want revenge against the girl, her death.”

Wwilliama said, “This will not be. I caused
This madness with a mindless stream of words.
The males will listen. If I see my madness,
They’ve got capacity to see their madness too.”

The geas came on Ssruanne and made her cry,
“The girl is still alive! She’ll stay alive!
I’ll use my dragon life to find the peace!”

Old Mmirrimann looked at his ancient lover,
Then slowly dragged himself into the dark.

Click to hear an audio of this section: Ending Dragon Community2

Note: This is the fifteenth installment of a long poem. Inspired by John Keats’ long narrative poem, Lamia, it tells a story set in ancient times when dragons and humans were at peace. Click on the numbers below to reach other sections, or go to the Categories box to the right under The Dragon Epic. Click on 1 to go to the beginning and read forward. Go to 14 to read the section before this one. Go to 16 to read the next section.

10 Comments

Filed under Poetry, The Dragon Epic, Thomas Davis

10 responses to “15. Ending Dragon Community

  1. Caddo Veil

    I’m curious, Thomas–whether this story plays in the back of your mind all the time, as you go about your daily life/work? When I was actively working on my novel, it played constantly like a movie–no matter what else I was doing… Hope you’re feeling well today–God bless you. Caddo

    • Caddo, I’ve learned over the years that everyone has a different writing process. In my case I have a strong sense of plot structure, whether it is a skeleton or catastasis plot structure. I can’t go into a complete discussion of these structures here or else I’d have to write a lengthy essay or short book to do so, but generally a skeleton plot involves time. A problem exists, you pile more and more problems on, you have to solve the problem within a shorter and shorter time period to avoid complete and total disaster, the problem is solved or not solved (the latter being a tragedy, the former a comedy or some close relative), and then the denouement. In catastasis, a common structure in Shakespeare, relationships within society and within the drama are everything. A problem exists between two or more characters or groups of characters. Conflict occurs, one character or group rises as another group falls, society faces disorder, and then the tamping down and summing up, leading to the denouement. Almost all modern fiction is built around the skeleton plot structure.
      I generally have the start of the story in mind and perhaps the key to the ending of the story and then start writing, blending several stories into one story based, usually, though not always, on a skeleton plot structure. I don’t keep thinking of the story day and night. Given my life I’m lucky to have any time for thinking at all. I just sit down and write and force myself to keep the sense of the climax of the story in mind, shaping events and characters to that end.
      I do rewrite as I am going along, although I suspect 75-80% of what I draft does not change. Like Nick Moore I’m really effective at thinking in iambic pentameter and other meters. But mostly I discipline myself to building tension, and eventually time as the limiting factor eventually forcing all the action, until I reach the climax I’ve got in mind in the beginning.
      Anyway, that’s sort of how I write long poems, short poems, novels, and short stories.

      • Caddo Veil

        Wow, Thomas–that was Good!! I may have to print it out as a reference guide–you’re far too generous with us unofficial students; you know that, right? Thank you, kind knight of silvered words. (oooh, I hear a poem coming on…) God bless you!! Caddo

  2. Printed out – will be back soon with comment!

  3. Just read your reply to Caddo – thanks for the education! “Catastasis” is a new term to me.
    As for your dragon series, you’re certainly building suspense! I’m looking forward to the next installment – and still intrigued by what role Wei will play in all this. (I do love the rhythm and flow of your meter – such a pleasure to read and listen!)

  4. Julie Catherine

    Madness born of fear … my anxiety, and empathy for both Wei and Ssruanne, builds equally; I want to shout at them: dragon and human must learn to co-exist, or all of us will be crushed …. LOL, can you tell how much I am caught up in your story? Thomas, I am THERE – with each breath they take, I do too! I delight in your mastery – you have taught me so much, just by reading your own works. (I’m also really happy to know I’m not the only one who ‘thinks’ in meter – I find it almost impossible not to.) This section almost brought me to tears …. brilliant ….

  5. Anna Mark

    Every time we read a piece of this story and poem we learn more about the mystery of what it means to be a dragon and what it means to be the child of a witch. I am struck by the interconnectedness of all of them, but within this, such potential for both peace and war, conflict and rest. What or who is the bridge to lasting peace and change? I’m enjoying this as always.

  6. Your story, and Caddo Veil’s comments, have kicked off an interesting discussion of the processes in writing an epic poem (or a novel). I’m fascinated by the tools writers use and how they wield them. Your Dragon Epic also shows something about the imagination: the sources for this epic must lie deep in the subconscious mind, I think, given the way they clearly transmit powerfully to other people reading the instalments.

  7. Thomas, you succeeded in building up wonderful suspense and had me alternating between fearing and hoping all through this segment. I really like the way you have the dragons “feeling” the thoughts of each other. Outstanding characteristic you have given them. Also, you are very successful in showing how rage can lead into folly and death and the breaking down of age-old treaties. I await the true fate of Wei and Ssruanne with bated breath, hopefully breathing no fire!

  8. This weekend I will be back to reread more thoroughly and comment, Thomas. This is so descriptively excellent…I’m at work right now and need to enjoy this in a more private and contemplative setting. I can say one thing though…as always…this is narrative is amazing!

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