Dragon’s Blood

By Anthony Labriola


On your Urban Crusade, with feathered helmet
and see-through shield, you’re more than halfway there:
East of Is and West of Seems, or North-North-West,
defenseless in the mad-brained mapping of your lost quest.
Like a hawk in direct line with the sun
and the hunter’s eye, you mistake the real route
for the fabled way, and double back.
Your targets are always concealed by legends.
Unsought paths lead halfway home, then on.
But home, too, is the way away from home and back.
The faster you ride, the farther you have to go.
Speed is a total loss in seeking/finding.
Running does no good, or too little, or too much.
For a latecomer to crusades, this route
leads nowhere, but first away, then on and on.
Each word you speak opens a wound in your story.
You won’t get out of your charmed life alive,
and don’t get to know how it all turns out in the end.
Even the black-armored dragonflies heckle the hero,
despite your thousand faces and your legends.
No brain, the rescued heckle, but a diploma,
like the Straw Man in The Wizard of Oz.
Your brain stem drags its tail on your adventures.
Once, you even fell at the feet of the Merciless.
When you can no longer hear the dragon,
you lunge at the dark growing darker,
the dark going blue. There’s always a quest
in any question, and always a reversal
in recognition. The talk in coffee shops
and the chatter on Twitter has it that you’re ailing,
pale, alone, wandering. Don’t you know even now
that your illness as tweeted is our liberation.
You’re the same, a stand-in for the leading man.
With the same contour as the scapegoat,
slay the dragon slayer, but do you kill the myth?
Written with dragon’s blood in your manual
of thrills and spills, and wandering ballads,
are the hero’s dying words: On the point between
Being and Seeming, discard your weapons.
Get rid of your feather helmet and shield.
Unchain the dragon, ruffled, uncertain.
Seem less fallible on this lost quest.
Without armor, sword, or lance, be ready to seek
your prey midway between Now and Never.


Anthony Labriola’s works include: The Rigged Universe (Shanti Arts), Sun Dogs (Battered Suitcase Press), Devouring the Artist, The Pros & Cons of Dragon-Slaying, Poor Love & Other Stories, Invisible Mending, The Blessing of the Bikes & Other Life Cycles (Anaphora Literary Press), and The Japanese Waltzing Mouse & Other Tales (Cranberry Tree Press). A new novella, The Lonely Barber, will be out in June 2017. A new collection of poetry, Birds & Arrows (Shanti Arts Press) will be out in 2017.

Featured image via Richard Croft [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons