35. Determination, Doubt, and Dreams of Victory

Inside the cave he’d clawed in mountain rock
Sshruunak’s resentment at the inconvenience
Of living rough outside the dragon lairs
Far from community he’d always known
Kept waking him, the cold intense enough
To make him wish he’d spent more digging time.
He kept on saying that discomfort made
Him miserable right now, but soon the moon
Would be invisible and then the song
Of dragon wings would beat so dreadfully
The earth would tremble from the flames of rage.

The thought of nineteen males, six fierce females
Now following his lead to dragon war
Seemed like a gift more precious than his hearts
Inside the small cave’s dark, a bolstering
That made his plans more promising than he
Had dreamed that they could ever be before
Their force had left the caves to find Sshruunak.
Inside his head he saw his clutch of dragons
Spread out across the skies, their bodies large
Enough to make irrelevant the men
That scurried with their deadly arrows through
The lanes between their small stone cottages.
He felt the power of their thundering
Inside his hearts and felt so potent-wild
He thought that he could burst out from his cave
And wrest the ancient stories from ancestors
And make them live in glory in this time.

But then the image faded as he thought
About the news his new force brought: Of Mmirrimann
And all the elders on the conclave’s stone,
Especially Ssruanne who’d let her mate
Assume her place upon the dais to call
For dragon war, huge dragons battling dragons
So that the dragon race would grow and thrive.
The old ones’ foolishness enraged him, made
Him want to spew his fire into their smug,
Old surety with force enough to make them cringe,
But still, his followers were young and strong,
But could they face the dragons from the caves?
Could victory be carved from dragons first
And then from humans with their puny strength?
What had he done? Created dominance
That would ensure that dragons lived without
The endless threat that humans represented?
Or made a war where dragon claws and flame
Raked only dragon hides and forced a slide
Into extinction Mmirrimann was fond
Of warning all the dragon caves about?

He’d trained the young males that had followed him
In discipline and strategy, but now
His newer followers were here to join
The battle that he’d planned for carefully,
And though he’d lead his forces through the skies,
What would they do when dragons they had known
The moment when they’d left their eggs for light
Confronted them and came at them with flames?

He’d somehow thought the elders would sit back
And let him fight the humans in his war
And cower in the caves, afraid to stop
Him as he moved to rid the world of humans,
But if the dragons that had left the conclave
To join him in the mountains had it right,
His war against the humans was a part
Of what they faced, the other part a war
He had not planned or even contemplated.

The doubts gnawed at his stomach, made him want
To bawl his fear and helpless feelings out
Into the quiet night and make them vanish,

But if he showed his feelings to the others,
He’d heard the hesitancy in the way
The new ones told of elders at the conclave
And felt the cold dismay the males had felt
To feel the possibility of war
Fought with their fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers…

What could he do? he asked himself. What should
He do before he could not stop events from moving
So fast he had no choice but forward movement
Toward a destiny that was not guaranteed
To be the destiny his dreams had formed?

He thrashed inside the cave and cold and moved
His wings–and then had left the cramped, close cave
For air that whistled as he flapped his wings.
Stars shined so bright they rained their silver light
Upon the valley far below his flight.
Great dragon bodies moved uncomfortably
To hear him leave his clawed out earth and soar
Into the crystal darkness of the night.
For hours the newest dragons had clawed earth
To make themselves a cave where they could sleep,
But mountain rock was hard, and days were needed
To make a cave, not hours before night came.

Still, no one followed him into the sky.
One day to train the new ones how to fight
A war with strategy instead of rage,
He thought. Stoormachen and the others who
Had learned the tactics had to take the lead.
The clutch he led would not be quite as fierce
As what he’d dreamed when he had set his rage
Toward the moment when he’d wage a war
Against the hunter who had sent his arrow
To blind his eye and wrap him deep with pain,
But cowering was not the dragon way—
Not even if Ssruuanne and Mirrimmann
Were strong enough to fill the skies with dragons
Opposing him and what his mind had willed.

He drove his wings down, spurted higher, up
Into the thinner air toward the stars.
They’d win, he screamed inside himself. They’d win!
They had no other choice than victory.

To listen to this section of the epic, click on Determination, Doubt, and Dreams of Victory

Note: This is the thirty-fifth section of a long narrative poem, which has grown into The Dragon Epic. Originally 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 Dragonflies, Dragons and Her Mother’s Death to go to the beginning and read forward. Go to Metamorphosis to go to the section previous to this one. To read the next section of the epic, click on Mesmerized Cave Dragons.


Filed under Poetry, The Dragon Epic, Thomas Davis

5 responses to “35. Determination, Doubt, and Dreams of Victory

  1. I had to dip out for a while, having been away for ten weeks with limited internet access, so it is a pleasure to pick up your threads again, Thomas, and to find that you still have perfect control of your subject and the medium of polished blank verse.

  2. Anna Mark

    A story that captures the complexities of war, the divisions within the dragons is moving. I don’t like the idea of them fighting each other at all and Sshruunak’s, questions is a good one, could they (the younger dragons) face the dragons from the cave? Once again, I wait for the next scene.

  3. I’m still enjoying these too, Thomas – and eager to see how this conflict all plays out.

  4. Julie Catherine

    I’m really hoping it doesn’t come to a full-out war; there must be a way to avert certain doom for both races … as always, Thomas, beautifully written. I await the next portion with a little trepidation and anxiety …

  5. Ever best beware of hotheads. I wonder how often they hearken – or even hear – the inner voice of wisdom?

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