Dragon, praying to be slayed

by Aqeela Naqvi

The barbarian rides the beast, cackling,
screeching with laughter, its eyes ablaze
with a foul redness as it pulls on the reins
and the dragon roars, whipping its head,
the sinews of its neck straining against
the force of the blood soaked ropes

The beast moves closer to where I stand,
and the hilt of my sword slips
in my fumbling hands

It slouches forward, a lazy grin playing
across the burnt and calloused face
of its master—the heathen of pride himself,
torn from the skies and thrown as a meteor
spiraling into the darkness, burning, burning
an object of disdain, disregarded, discarded
by the very cradle of existence;

Thrown into the pit where he coalesced
a mutated, wretched army of sightless beings
staggering with their arms outstretched;
tempting hands attached to decaying
arms: grasped for salvation, but instead
pulled into the misty bog, trading
consciousness for the fog of rotting happiness

Whom I, I! must dethrone, depose; this king
made king by my own deception;
I, who took the puncturing of my soul by
thorny roots to be a sign of my growth,
I, who closed my eyes and became entranced
by the whispers and murmurs that inhabit
the stillness of the night,

I, who advanced to the ranks of general
in the army of my own destruction

The beast moves closer until I can feel the
vapors of its breath, steaming over my face
each exhalation laced with the sound of
laughter that screeches against the ears
I steady my hand and look into the eye
of the beast and it pierces me—
not with a bang, but a whimper

An eye surrounded by scales, but the
sheen of moisture in its depths speaks,
a silent scream, pleading, prayer for release,
the liberation of a beast, no, a prisoner
my sword a cure for the poison of darkness
the servitude I’ve unknowingly,
unfailingly, enslaved it in

am I chained to this darkness,
or is it chained to me?

do I yearn to be freed from it?
does it cry to be freed from me?