an epic poem by Thomas Davis
Inside his cave Sshruunak’s dark thoughts unleashed
A constant storm that pummeled him with lightning
As pain and anger raged with burning hatred.
He felt a fire so fierce it made scales burn
Into his flesh and scar his spirit’s song.
He’d let the healers come, extract the arrows,
And wrap his bloody eye with salve and webbing
Designed to let a membrane heal the wound,
But then he’d sent long streams of dragon fire
To singe all other males brave enough
To bring their fury to his cold, dark lair.
He brooded in the darkness like the worm
The humans once had said described his kind
And tried to find his balance in a world gone mad.
He’d always thought himself impervious
To any human wile and could not understand
How two small humans had defeated him
And made him flee the battle like a coward.
When old Williama came and stood outside
His cave and called to him, he snorted fire
And rumbled with his incoherent rage,
But chasing elders off was not as easy
As threatening the friends he’d had since birthing.
The old, dark dragon waited for his fire
To spend its breath, then came inside, her eyes
So wild with whirling colors that she seemed
As potent as Ssruanne upon the dais.
She stood in light made by her eyes and curled
Her lips so that her rows of teeth gleamed white
Inside the storm of hatred that he’d brewed.
“You’re hiding from yourself,” she said, her voice
A whipping blade of anger. “Now you know
Why peace was made before all dragonkind
Was lost to history and ancient myths.”
Sshruunak let silence stretch and coil
Into discomfort as the elder stood
And stared implacably at where his eye
Was blind, her stance aggressive, challenging.
“This universe cannot let dragons live
While humans breed like rabbits in the spring,”
He growled at last. “We live; they die, or else
They live, and we become an ancient myth.
You used the words; I spit them in your craw!”
Williama’s eyes grew more intense. She snorted,
A puff of fire flared out to light the cave.
“I was a fool,” she said. “I heard the geas Ssruanne
Called from the ancient spirits of our race
And let my hatred of the humans crush
My sentience and send you out to where
You were as big a fool as I when I
Called for destruction of the human girl.
When Mmirimann negotiated peace
I thought he was insane, but we are thriving
Inside these caves where once our numbers fell
Year after year through centuries of time.
The peace has got to hold. It’s got to hold.”
He stirred. “The young will follow me,” he said.
“I’ve heard their talk outside the cave for days.”
“You think you are a leader then?” she asked.
“Like Mmirimann? Ssruanne? The ones who made
It possible for us to live our lives
Without the threat of arrows in our eyes?”
The blackness in him stirred alive a force
More powerful than any dragon was.
It overwhelmed his pain and blindness, swept
Aside the reason in Williama’s voice,
And roared into the cave so loud the stones
Above their heads began to tremble, crack.
Inside the universe of sound Williama
Stood still, despair a wailing in her head
That echoed back into the times when dragons
Were solitary in their greediness.
Inside the cave Sshruunak seemed like a nightmare,
Wings black, his spirit black as shining wings.
She stared into the storm of who he was
And tried to find his sentience, the key
That could unlock the future of his kind
And let them all avoid a dragon war
Where young fought elders as their futures waned.
“You cannot kill the human girl,” she said.
“Ssruanne is eldest. She has seen the song
That’s gathering inside our dragon hearts.”
The silence was so sudden that it echoed.
He glared at her, his eyes so strong they seemed
As if they had the will to hypnotize all time.
“The humans who were brave enough to send
Their arrows in my eye are dead,” he said.
“A single dragon’s not the force that dragons
Assembled like a human army are.
Ssruanne’s girl took away my dragoness
And made me silent when I meant to speak.
She’s just as dead as those two hunters are.”
“Ssruanne and Mmirimann will fight against
Your craziness,” Wwilliama said. “The elders
Won’t easily forsake the future of our race.”
“The elders battling the young?” he sneered.
His blackness seemed to stretch outside the cave
Into the winter cold and coal black night.
“The young will win,” he said. “The young will win.”
“We’ll see,” Wwilliama answered, sadness like
A pool of water covering her spirit.
“We’ll see what dawn and dragon hearts will bring.”
She turned and left the cave. Sshruunak saw deep
Into the universe and saw the power
Of rage engulfing all the earth in flame.
“The hunters and the girl are dead,” he said.
“And if the elders have to die, they’ll die.”
Ssruanne would never use her geas on him.
Inside the darkness of his cave he saw
His blackness leading as a hundred dragons
Flew massed toward a village wrapped in peace.
Listen to an audio of this section of the epic: 19
Note: This is the ninteenth installment of a long narrative 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 18 to read the installment before this one. Go to 20 to read the next section of the epic.