The white-rosined bows across the raised violins
lift and fall like flashing sabers, now crossbows’
quick arrows. Coronets blare, war bugles sounding
and the French horns call for aid far down a forest
path growing older as it leads to ancient battles.
Trombones strike, forward, back, again, bronze
rams battering the enemy’s gate, cymbals clashing
gongs of the emperor’s vast army. Woodwinds
engage, from a distant hill oboes light their muted
cannons and black clarinets with silver keys gleam
like tunics of doomed soldiers grown thin in death.
The general’s baton orders last attack, one company,
another, another, waves of charging troops, volleys
spreading, receding, crossfires, retreat, silence . . .
The music’s pages make white flags of surrender.
Nels Hanson grew up on a small farm in the San Joaquin Valley of California and has worked as a farmer, teacher and contract writer/editor. His fiction received the San Francisco Foundation’s James D. Phelan Award and Pushcart nominations in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016. His poems received a 2014 Pushcart nomination, Sharkpack Review’s 2014 Prospero Prize, and 2015 and 2016 Best of the Net nominations.