ROLE– by Scott Hutchison


His fearsome tribe is battle-ready, brawny, broad

of shoulders, scar-muscled. He is small, a runt

allowed to live. Never once at the forefront

of a charge. Not his place. He brings up the rear.


Still, his table-companions raise a cup, acknowledge

his role, his steady tactics: the enemy who

bloodies through finds a slight shaking fool path-set

in front of him, and crashing forward with a powerful stroke

the berserker knocks the lesser opponent to earth, moves in

for the kill slash—which will glance off of

a precisely angled shield, while the short sword

gripped in the other hand cleaves through

calf, leg tendon, the over-confident opening

of lower leg. Which always topples the big man.


And in the charger’s brave wincing moment

of reaction he sees the truth–as the diminutive swordsman

down on his back strikes off sword-wrist and begins

to vivisect. The ground-rolling bladesman is quick quick.


Once done, he rises, dusts himself off, resumes a valueless face

and prepares for another. The girthful warrior, mindful of fame,

ever-falls, reduced to godless and gutted roar-man,

incensed to be taken to task and darkness by the tiny fellow

with the grim smile on his lips, who battle after battle

receives three, four, five gold rings

and the shoulder pat of the king—the back-line smidgen

who sits in honor drinking deep, nodding his head

to the songs of the dragon slayers.



Scott T. Hutchison’s work has appeared in such publications as Star*Line, Brief Grislys, and Postscripts to Darkness.  New work is forthcoming in the Atlanta Review.

banner ad

Comments are closed.