The Impresario (part twenty-four)
Behind leathern masks are the fighters’ faces hid
To make livelier sport for the pleasure of the mob
For to lose the sight of an eye, or have a nose cut off
Cuts short the combat, those on tiptoes at the back
Do not strain themselves to witness a moment’s dispatch
And a fallen man who lies below their vantage
Bleed to death
The contestants are not armored, nor bear shields
In tunic and cape of or and gules, honors the house
As the rumor flies, of a prince of Anvers.
In his left hand holds a club, for the parrying of blows
In his right, a poignard, this his own, the gossips say
The hilt’s T hollowed round a splinter of the Cross
Yet this Boniface disappoints, his puniness draws rude noise
“Someone plays a joke”, the jeer begins to thunder
Voice added to voice
The prisoner is thrust through a gauntlet of spears
Loudly they boo, for he totters alike, and the weight of his weapons
Saps the sum of his might.
The impresario from the blackness of his cell
Comes pale into daylight, numb now to the bites
Of fleas and lice, haggard with fever that preys upon his eyes.
So he supposes.
Those that meet his own are not the troubadour’s
They are the eyes he’d begged of Heaven to gaze upon once more
The crowd is chanting, urging him to strike
Rather he sinks to fainting knees, his wish
This spectre weeping over him in the guise of love
May bare its master’s claw and make an end
The Bishop’s guard holds back the throng.
Armed with bad eggs and wormy apples,
Mud balled round handfuls of loose pebbles,
They begin to hurl their missiles.
A breach parts the line and the mob runs riot
(2017, Stephanie Foster)