COLDER THAN MARS, by Andrew Crabtree


Mars is a god who loves the taste of it

The bright red racing mortal taste of it

So in his ring of iron he makes a war.

In fields beyond the seven marble hills

His men take arms to force strange kings to kneel.

His sacred camp is trampled flat. Sun-smeared

Standards dip beneath oppressive heat,

Tents shouldering the sedentary air.

File upon file, the centuries march past,

Man after man shining with sweat and bronze,

Javelins loose in strong chafed hands.

What furnaces of thought behind hard eyes

Speak discipline, the exercise of strategy and arms,

Hard bodies and hard hearts. No care for where

The sword is drawn tomorrow; thunder, blood

Anoint in Ithaca as well as Syracuse or Gaul.

These men have seen it. Some have lived

Well. Some have not. Death waits for them

Across a bridge, beyond the turnpike, on the sand,

Between the Danube and the Rhine, under the stars

Or parched upon a plain like this one. Death waits,

Colder than Mars.



Andrew Crabtree lives and works in Toronto, Canada. When not teaching English or studying dead languages, he is usually found with his nose in a book. His poetry has recently appeared in Goblin Fruit, Star*Line, and assorted other venues.


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