Story #5 - Matt Gallivan - 630 words
The snow fell hard that fateful morn',
Legions knelt, weary, wounded, worn,
They sharpened blades and stocked their bows,
Warming hands and frozen toes.
Amongst these men, a summer face,
Of sheep and swine, and Sicilian trace.
A farmer's boy, and new to war,
Drawn in by legacy, legend, lore.
Raised upon wheat and corn,
A fertile land, but Rome's forlorn.
Of rolling plains, and hills, and trees,
Imprisoned by Neptune's raging seas.
He joined the Legion, in his fourteenth year,
It hardened him, a rock, austere.
And soon marched north and sailed again,
To the frozen wastelands of Londinium.
And here he was, a face in few,
Of men who survived in a fort subdued.
They knew that soon, one final wave,
They'd fight to death, these Legions brave.
And the horns were sounded,
The defense surrounded.
And the summer face, he set his bow,
And killed a man, knee-deep in snow.
With sorrow he watched his standard fall,
The man who carried it began to call,
For him, for someone, to ease his pain,
The summer man, he winced and looked away, and set his bow and shot again.
The fort now breached, few Roman's fought,
Efforts in vain, forlorn and naught.
Yet he fired with the fury, the rage of a God,
And found it strange, when no more were left, for him to kill, and he put down his bow, in this situation odd.
He cursed himself the moment he did,
A blade through his stomach it slid,
And he gasped as he fell to the ground; to the snow,
With hands clutching spot, where his armor would go.
And his visions faded as he rest in his grave,
Of the legions who fought with there valor so brave.
Yet in his heart, true to himself and his country of Rome,
And picked himself up from the loam,
And stabbed and slashed with knife in hand,
He drove back hordes of barbarian men, who'd taken friends and family and land.
He cut with vengeance, he cut with zeal,
Blade on blade, steel on steel.
Once again cut down,
Where shoulder was, and shoulder's gown.
He fell to the earth, snow laden with gore,
And he laid there gasping in the snow, near the trees, on the hills, of the land he fought for.
And as if he saw a man come along,
He recited himself, like a memorized song.
"Little 'un", he said, with no terror or fear,
His face set in smile, though his fate set in clear.
"I lay here today, on the land that I love,
And I think to myself, is this what I've dreamt of?"
For a moment he seemed, to think to himself,
About the glories of Rome, and the sprawling streets,
And of the legends and heroes, their conquests and feats,
And he lay there dying in the land that he love,
And he said to the boy, oh, the ghost of a boy,
"Rome is not, in the emper'rs eyes,
And not in the tribunes, or Senate, or scholars so wise,
And it does not matter from where you arise,
But if you fight for Rome, a Roman you die.
And I have seen this land, in the ups and the downs, and the struggles for years,
I have been with my Rome for the laughs and the tears,
But boy, we will carry Rome forever,
And when I fade away, will I forget Rome?
Never, no, never!
For I have stood here in Rome, and here on this wall,
And eras will pass, and empires will fall,
But Rome will beat on, in the hearts of us all."
And for a moment all the heavens, they cried,
He was not born a Roman, but a Roman he died.