Blood on the Lance

Throats on the Sword’s Edge 05 of 06


Blood on the Lance

Ah, Tribune, my old friend

and devoted son of Rome

let us relax here in the coolness

of evening breeze with bright stars overhead

look at how these fine silver goblets

catch the yellow of this flickering lamplight

and full moon rising above the trees

drink deep of the bouquet of the wine

from my estates, it be rich and fruity

of deepest red like precious ruby

yet while you sip it slowly so to savor

let me tell you a strange tale but true

of a soldier once in proud legions of Rome

but of this story I caution you

that far for the best be it

that you tell not this to noble Caesar

if he should think to ask of you

how it be that I, his once near-blind

Governor of this backwater can see once more

far better it be to say to him

you know not how or merely answer

that my offerings must have pleased the gods.

Indeed, this fine wine looks like blood

old friend but do harken when I say

that in my long years as Governor

serving great Caesar in our mighty Empire

I have witnessed many strange things

but the very strangest of them all

concerns a monk whose story I now tell

traitor he became who once served Rome

and fell from grace for he loved not

Caesar nor held dear our cherished gods

so I condemned him and had

his teeth forced out and tongue cut off

for preaching blasphemy and speaking sedition

but the night before

I had his head cut off

to the dark dungeons I went

for I was curious as to how this

once proud and loyal Centurion of Rome

could have sunk so low as all of this

yet though he had neither tongue nor teeth

and his mouth was raw with congealing blood

he clearly spoke, as impossible as it seems.

Longinus was his name

and long were his years

in the legions of Britannica and Gaul

fighting barbarians on the frontiers there

years and years in these hostile lands

of snow and ice and rain before away

to serve under the burning sun of Judea

but now almost blind though Centurion still

he commanded an execution squad of soldiers

putting to death yet one more false messiah

who’d been freshly and mightily scourged

then draped in rag cloak of red and crowned

with biting ring of thorns as King of the Jews

before nailed to the cross as warning

and hoisted up amidst two thieves

on a mount called the Hill of Skulls.

Upon that knoll the three scum hung

long hours under the blazing sun

till the soldiers impatient for the end

swung hammers to break the condemned men’s knees

of the two thieves but not the rebel

who Longinus speared with a lance

and saw the man was already dead

but droplets of water and blood

fell into the Centurion’s eyes almost blind

and suddenly he could plainly see again

yes, Tribune, well may you scoff as did I

but the night before this traitor’s death

the former Centurion swore it was so

and much more, for on that day

on the Hill of Skulls and everywhere thereabouts

the night suddenly fell when it be only mid-afternoon

of course, you will believe it not

but in the darkness when day turned to night

lightning the heavens smote and thunder roared

a fierce wind suddenly howled and graves

opened up and the dead arose to lurch

and stagger all about and in nearby town.

With all this strangeness and horror coming down

the Centurion exclaimed

Truly this was the Son of God

then cast aside his sword but kept the lance

so left the army but with sight returned

to go and sit at the feet of some ragtag fanatics

of that ‘king’ who’d been mocked and crucified

before Longinus travelled here as monk

to preach and spread false words

thereby treason against Caesar and Rome

but here my dear Tribune

occurred that which no man can deny

if at all other things you may scoff

for on that morning when I had

his head cut off I stood close by

to better see with my failing sight

when droplets of his spurting blood

splashed into my poor, poor eyes and lo

I could suddenly see clearly once more.

Yes, Tribune, old friend, we agree

it be best not to tell mighty Caesar

should he ask how this Governor

once blind can clearly see again

for treason could hang upon the words

in a telling of why a Centurion became

a monk whose death strangely healed me

but look over there in the corner

it be the Centurion’s spear we seized

from him who had naught else of army days

perhaps such be some lance of destiny

one could almost say for it altered

the Centurion’s way as it did mine

yet how strange that a weapon of war

that tasted blood in snow and ice

and was there when day turned into night

as the dead rose up and walked

how odd that the blood fell from the tip

to restore the Centurion’s dimming sight

thus turned his night into day

as did his own blood to mine for by

his death my dead eyes now live again

ah, Tribune, indeed the gods smiled on me

to send me a monk speaking treason

and let’s drink to the gods in thanks

and to you as well, old friend

nor forgetting rambling me

nor almighty and noble Caesar.


Over the years on Gather, I have published 10 Easter poems – some of them in a series.  I thought it timely to republish six poems from the collection – one per day until Easter Sunday.  I will use the same series title as I did before.


See also:

Throats on the Sword’s Edge

01 Rope and Tree

02 Do Not Weep for Me

03 The Fool on the Hill

04 Where the Wild Dogs Howl

About the Author ()

I am intrigued by the proposition that what you believe is true for you - even if no one else believes it or regards it as true. That you will seek and find evidence proving to you that what you believe is true, despite the beliefs of others. Thereby imp

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