Literature / Poetry

An Excerpt: Res Publica

The Etruscans were a unique and strange peoples; they lived north and north-east of Rome in the Po valley and Etruria. They spoke a foreign tongue and yet were so close to her dear Rome; they fought with an army consisting of Latins and their own, able-bodied Etruscan men. We have heard stories of them battling and fending off the barbarian Celts to the north of Italia’s peninsula, but we have yet to see it first-hand.

I recall my first battle with the Etruscans, and I was disappointed at their lack of ferocity and valor. Our legion was under the command of Legatus Aurelius Spartonius, and we marched north from Rome into the heart of the Po valley to encounter an Etruscan force of ca. 4,000 Italian spearmen, 400 citizen cavalry, and a ghastly sight of disorganized Italian militias who numbered around 1,000 men. Legatus Spartonius had asked the Senate for a command of 10,000, but received just shy of 3,000 hastati, 1,000 principes, and the famed Legion of Mars, which was a veteran regiment of 1,000 triarii. We also had the usual assortment of the baggage train and the flanking regiments of velites and equites¸ and I cannot forgot my own incorporation into the army: I was part of the speculatores regiment. My job was to screen and explore ahead of the main body to attain the enemy’s positions, find useful flanking and attack paths, and warn the body of any natural and unfortunate obstacles that would hamper our ability to attain victory.

We equaled the Etruscans in strength, but the fortitude and discipline of the hastati was enough to break through their front lines. We had marched onto the field just before dawn. The crop was a pale yellow, and the sun in its wee hours illuminated the sky in a pink-violet tinge. There were young ripples of clouds sprawled out in the air, and it looked as the eyes of the Gods smiled upon the sons of Rome to attain victory against the Etruscans. The night prior to the battle me and three compatriots had rode, silently, ahead of the camped legion to discover the Etruscans foolishly lying on a gorge of small hills. Their fires were easily visible to us, and we could discover their numbers and order of battle without much difficulty; they had the militias and spearmen on the immediate right flank, and the citizen cavalry on the left, for we could hear the rearing of the horses and the banter of the militias in the nighttime atmosphere.

The rising of the sun occurred just as we had finished our battle deployment. I stood to the far left of the line behind the triarii, and inspected our force; it was a terrifying and superior sight to see. The glazing of the bronze and iron on the bodies of the soldiers, and the firmness and fearless pose in which they stood, would have scared the Gods themselves. The hastati stood as the first line in the order of battle; they are young, strong and able-bodied men equipped with the gladius, two pila, and a large, rectangular shield that came to represent their rank. Behind them stood the majestic principes, who were the more seasoned and mature of the legion. And at last stood the famed and feared triarii, the heaviest infantry in the Roman realm and a force that could crash and fight against death itself. It is not often that Rome, or a legatus, fights a battle to the triarii, but certainly a battle would end in decisive victory.

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Literature / Poetry

An Excerpt: Requiem for a Man

“Can I help you, miss?” I asked nervously.

She sighed heavily in relief.

“You live on this floor, I hope?” She inquired softly.

“I sure hope I do; got keys, furniture, and rent.”

“Which apartment do you live in? I think Gloria gave me the wrong key.”

“I live in apartment 27.” I walked closer to her and stood in front of the door to my apartment. I pointed my index finger toward the door, and prepared to get out my keys.

“See, my key doesn’t open the door to apartment 25.” She demonstrated that the key would not permit the door to open.

“Did you want to come inside my apartment? Figure it out later? Can’t stay out her alone, and you look exhausted.” I said sincerely.

A surprised look came on her face. She contemplated my question for a moment, and slightly nodded to me in compliance. A small smirk came upon her face. I opened the door to my apartment, and I picked up her trunk with my left hand and motioned with my right for her to go in before me. She proceeded slowly into my living room, and I followed her inside and shut the door behind me.

The small dim of light from the sun was slowly coming in through the balcony window. The rain persisted, and gray overcast clouds covered the New York sky. I set the trunk down by the front door, removed my jacket and belongings, and sat down at my kitchen table. She removed her scarf and sat down on the opposite of me. It was quiet for a moment. The pat-pat of the rain continued, and I breathed slowly in and out, exhausted.

“Thank you.” The woman whispered quietly.

“You don’t need to thank me, its fine. Do you want to get some rest? You can sleep in my bedroom if you like, I’ll stay out here on my small loveseat. I don’t sleep a lot anyway.”

“What’s your name?” She asked solemnly.

“Vincent.” I replied. “And yours?”

“Victoria.” She said. She was staring right at me. I felt some sort of negative vibe within myself that inclined me to not look at her in any way; I stared at the middle of the kitchen table.

“What is your profession?” I inquired.

“I am studying to be a schoolteacher.” She whispered.

“Didn’t answer my question.” I replied.

“Oh, you mean my line of work right now?” She asked. A look of slight guilt came upon her face. “I don’t know whether to tell you the truth or lie to you.”

I looked up at her. I stared into her face for just a moment, and looked back down at the table.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to embarrass you, Victoria. You don’t have to respond if you don’t want to.”

“I’m a prostitute…” She replied quietly. We both looked down at the table in silence. I didn’t know how to respond.

“Did you want some coffee or anything?” I asked apologetically.

A small grin came upon her face.

“No thanks.” She replied sweetly. “You know, you’re the only man in my personal life that hasn’t judged me the second I revealed myself to be an escort.”

I looked up and stared into her eyes for a moment.

“I am only but a man.” I replied softly. We stared at each other a little longer, and then she got up from the table, looked back behind her toward my bedroom, smiled slightly at me, and continued toward my bedroom. She opened the door and went inside, but left it slightly ajar. I contemplated in silence what she was asking of me. I stared at the ground, and then got up and moved toward my cushion loveseat in the living room. I sighed a heavy sigh, stared at my bedroom door, and slowly fell asleep. I remember the light of the sun was shining dimly through my balcony window, and the rain had stopped. It was quiet, and there was peace.

Literature / Poetry

An Excerpt: Aetas

Prometheus awoke. The sky was covered in deathly overcast gray clouds; there were raindrops that sprinkled from the heavens and did not touch the ground; the air was cold and crisp, yet possessed no scent; a blanket of mist and fog rested upon the land, yet obscured no vision; the willowing of the wind could be felt across the skin, and yet made no sound. There was a small river by which Prometheus had lain; it sat perfectly still, yet curiously had flow; the ground was of a gray, soft sand that held no texture and possessed no weight; there were not rocks on the earth, nor birds in the sky; there were not weeds in the ground, nor trees in the far; there appeared no Sun to cast light, and yet it was day.

Prometheus stood, bare-naked and of a superior height; broad, firm shoulders and strong, muscular legs; a skin not of complexion, yet not of rough or grainy feel; black crew-cut hair and small, reserved ears; a moderate nose, serious puffy lips, cheekbones of perfection, a neutral chin without flaw or hair; the archetype of a man.

Save for his eyes; pupils as dark as night, and retinas as red as blood; his gaze and firm eyebrows possessed a powerful, almost furious look; there were eyes that had seen lifetimes, and yet had not gazed upon a day; they were the eyes of a child, teenager, and elderly man all at the same moment; they were eyes of emotion and passion, peace and ambition; they were the eyes of no man.

There was frost in his breath, and yet Prometheus felt no cold. He examined his surroundings, finding not life or activity; he strolled slowly to the side of the river calmly beckoning to him; he took his small, plump toes and dipped his feet within the water. Ripples radiated across the surface and slowly reversed back to their origin; the water was a glowing warm sensation, exhilarating and soothing. Prometheus retracted his feet from the river, his toes possessing no moisture. His feet did not dirty or foul from the earth beneath; Prometheus scooped up a clump of dirt within his veined, manly hands; his fingers retained not dirt or texture.

Prometheus gazed down the land where the serpent river flowed; small hills and dunes rolled up and down the landscape; Prometheus began to follow the river’s path, not knowing what lay in the distance.