The Crusader: A Search for the Virtue Inside (an excerpt of an Epic Poem)

On through the darkness she searches the bones
Seeking the hand of her love;
Deep in the stillness, the maid searches on,
Petitioning help from above.
Onward she gropes through the flesh and the blood
Of the warriors disfigured and maimed;
She carries no hope for the life of her love -
For naught but his body she came.
To see his face and cradle his head,
Hold him close to her breast;
Shed bitter tears at her sweet love's end
And give him peaceful rest.

As dawn ascends the darkened sky
And the glow of morning breaks,
She happens upon a scene of peace -
Of death, where none awake.
Andrew is pierced by arrows, three,
David is struck by four;
She silently gives grateful thanks
He did not suffer more.

She reaches forth and takes his hand,
Her heart leaps in ecstasy!
"He is not dead! He is not dead!
His hand feels warm to me!!"

She knew she must act rapidly,
The sun was near the crest;
The hilly peaks that shadowed still
This morbid plain of death.
She broke the back of every shaft
Then pulled the rest clean through,
And taking his ankles with tightened grasp
Her strength and courage grew!
Pulling forward with all her might
They started across the plain,
A horse and portage waited there
To bring them safety, again.

Faint, a cry came from behind
A voice she knew, in fear!
"Andrew", cried the voice in pain,
"Come...die with me here."
Her mind now raced a hundred ways -
Must she return again?
Compassion and terror racked her mind,
Each vying for preference to win.
"David", whispered her own true love,
And she knew she must give in.
Yet something haunted her troubled heart,
Urged her not to stay;
Leave David to die this honorable death,
Take Andrew and run away!
"I'll not come between my love and his friend,
I would not even try;
For it would cause more grief and pain
For which I'd wont to die!"
So one by one she dragged them through
The moldering stench of hell
And safely returned to the retreatment camp
To nurse and make them well.

For days they lay near Death's cold door;
She tended to their wounds.
And tended to others, wounded sore,
Who made the grave their home.
The crusading band, now broken down,
Their cause but memory;
Now turn for home, most who remain
They taste not victory.
The commander and a few brave men
Remain and do their best
To help some in their recovery
And give others peaceful rest.

Conscious now, gaining strength
And ready to be gone,
Andrew and David share their thoughts
On war and going home.
David speaks of raising men
And returning to the fight!
Andrew's had his fill of death
"This war just isn't right."
"Your brother was no coward, son,
He fought most valiantly.
Let us avenge our Jonathan's death!
You'll change your mind, you'll see!"
"At least he's got a mind to change",
A voice comes from behind,
"That's more than you left poor Jonathan."
The maiden speaks, unkind.
"What do you mean?!" Andrew cries
With anger in his voice;
He glances between the man and the maid
And knows he must make a choice!
"MY love, your brother did not die
At the hands of an infidel",
The maiden's eyes burst forth in tears,
"T'was someone he knew well!"
David felt his heartsick curse,
His curse of blood-stained hands
And wringing them madly, he exclaimed,
"How oft must I defend?!
It is not true, I've done no wrong!
T'was Providence's will
That Jonathan would stand my way
And thus receive the kill!"
Andrew's mind now fills with rage,
"Why could I not see?
The change that's taken half your mind,
And nearly mine from me!
Now, through deceit, I'm driven far
Across this wilderness
To maim and kill these innocent lives
To set my soul at peace!!
I curse you David, I curse your breath,
May conscience tear your heart!
May your soul forever burn -
I can only mourn your loss!"

David cries in anguish deep,
Andrew prepares to leave.
The maid must bear her anger out
And turns as she makes to leave;
"You were caught up in the joy of death,
Caught up in the thrill;
That caution had escaped your hand
And Jonathan you killed!
You glory not in the cause of truth,
You do not seek God's will,
You glory not in His good grace;
You glory in the kill!!"

Deathly silent David falls
His mind recalls again
The look upon his true friend's face
As his life before him drained.
Sanity leaves his weakened frame,
Revenge is in his eye!
T'was Andrew's fault his friend is gone,
T'is Andrew's turn to die!
An evil smile forms the lips
From a vile, cankered brain
That gropes to plan young Andrew's death
With a maximum of pain!
"Let him die before my eyes
With a maximum of pain!!"

(this is an excerpt only)

Bob Curtis has been writing articles, short fiction and poetry for over 30 years. He is the managing director of http://www.people4people.blogspot.com, and is the president of Nexus Publishing, http://www.nexus4u.blogspot.com

For information on obtaining a complete manuscript of "The Crusader", write to [email protected].

In The News:

Why poetry matters  Spectator.co.uk
American Life In Poetry  Shawangunk Journal
Poetry  The Madera Tribune
WBOI Presents: In Session Episode 016 Poetry  Northeast Indiana Public Radio
Poet's Corner  Martha's Vineyard Times

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