Black Ships Burning
by Jennifer CrowNo way home--you know this
when flames stain the wine-dark sea.
You watch the past blaze
against Ilium's sands;
the glow illuminates
the stunned faces of your comrades.
This is how kings roll the dice:
not with bones, but lives
of men. Sea spray or tears,
salt touches your mouth,
and the gulls laugh overhead
like the distant gods.
Tomorrow blood will run
down your blade
and the hot, rank scent of death
will cling to you in the night
while the captains count their spoils.
You knew glory once, when
Aeolus's winds snarled your hair
and waves creaked beneath the bow
of your ship. Athena's eye watched you--
but no more. Her painted wards
warp and bubble in the heat,
and you stand godless on the beach
watching fires paint the clouded night.
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