CICERO THRUSTS HIS HEAD

1.
Cicero will thrust his head far out of the sedan,
exposing his throat as much as possible,
though careful to stay reclining . . .
something important about meeting
death in repose.

He will know the soldier waits with a sword,
outside the curtain, know his death arrives,
and there only remains this last gesture
of how to die well.


2.
He hopes his brother escaped,
but doubts it since Octavian's
henchmen caught up with him
here as he tried to reach the sea . . .
it means his brother is dead.


3.
Cicero's servants abruptly rest
his sedan on the path, and even
though no one speaks, he knows
the soldier now waits outside
with the sword.

He does not want to see the soldier's
face, and even though he thrusts his head
far beyond the curtain, he keeps his gaze
downward, at an oddly-shaped black
pebble, it means nothing . . .

though he knew many people doubted
his bravery, he feels strong enough
to stare at this black pebble, all the way,
until he looses consciousness
from the deep wound to his neck.


Ward Kelley
WARD KELLEY has seen more than 1200 of his poems appear in journals worldwide. He is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee whose publication credits include such journals as: ACM, Rattle, Zuzu's Petals Quarterly, Ginger Hill, Pif, 2River View, The Animist, and others. He was the recipient of the Nassau Review Poetry Award for 2001. This is his third appearance in TAR.
The Adirondack Review