Tactical Poetry: We Who are about to Die
by Carl Martin Johnson
“We who are about to die salute you!”
As is custom, thus we greet.
Great Caesar, we fight to suit you.
In victory and defeat.
This arena is where we kill.
Where someday we will die.
I and my brothers serve your will.
It does no good to cry.
I have fought often in this ring
Since your legions took me slave.
Of my prowess your poets sing,
But I am not so brave.
I have killed to entertain,
With my short sword and my spear.
Yet my Caesar feels no pain,
Nor what it’s like to be down here.
Today, say the omens, will be my last.
On the dirt will my life be spilled.
Payment full for my bloody past,
For all the men that I have killed.
I see death too in your royal eyes.
In this month of March, the ides.
The end will take you by surprise.
From Death, not even Caesar hides.
Should we meet in the hereafter,
In the beauty of Elysian Fields.
Perhaps we will share our laughter,
Where no man to Caesar yields.