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"The Old Gateman" (by Joe DiMino)

Where have all
The good knights gone
And highwayman
For the people?—
Just bones with
A stone
To show us where
In the shadow
Of an old
Church steeple;
And should
The gray friar,
Knowing them all,
Tell grand stories
Of those fearless
And proud?—
I say, he dare not,
Only silence
And him

So—the holy man
Does his oath duty;
Mending the armor
Revealing not their
Tending steel doors
Careful of the
Ancient mail,
Washing cold floors
With toothbrush
And pail—
Filled at a well
No longer used
For meditative
Spiritual drinking:
Forbidden coin…
Forbidden wishes…
Yet a secret
To me
He confessed:

One night a year
His vow broken…
Climbs to the portal
(No longer a bell)
Yet he flails his arms
As if ringing out hell—
A warning
To the people,
Alerting the knights;
He calls down
Legions of stars;
Beckons their steeds
Flying off Mars—
Stars, brightly shinning…
Moon, immense and full…
As the knights,
Though opposite,
Come the demon riders
With hearts
Just as true—
They clash
Making thunder;
They spark
Lighting dark—
The old friar’s soul
Leaps back at the fire,
Fanning the fury
Within and without—
Helmets fly pass him,
Staining the air;
Right or wrong
In the mix of battle
Only God cares—
No rules to the conflict,
Only rules are the blood,
Striking deep
As the bone—
Deep where
The soul—
As one spirit
Lives in, so
Each warrior
Dies alone…

And there
In the courtyard
When at last all
Is still—
Still as the night
Still as dead
No actors
But players—
The stage
Of which Shakespeare
Its own truth
Its own joke
Its own dread—

After the shadows
Swept away,
The dear friar
Rakes their beds—
Tucks heavens
And hells,
Gateways away—
Till the
Next eve
And All Hallows

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