The Last Dragon

Irina Ratushinskaya, 1954-2017
I’m wretched and old;
Stiff joints and dull pain.
The forest sheds its dry skin like a snake.
If I drop off --
There’ll be nightmares again.
Fox sounds pierce the dark, if I stay awake.
Morning. The mushrooms raise their caps to the skies,
God of the dragons, kind, good, and vast!
I am so tired.
Swollen paws, puffy eyes.
Beneath my thin ribs, my heart beats too fast.
Yes, I still belch flames with each breath,
But it’s a strain.
I cough till I’m hoarse.
In what desert is he hiding that angel of Yours?
I trusted he’d come for my soul. What a joke!
I’ve been forgotten - just left off his list.
A broken-down dragon is easy to miss.
I wanted to call him, but no use to try;
My roar can no longer fetch stars from the sky.
God, in your mercy, please take me, I pray,
Why should the vultures keep circling in vain?
You know the last knight has long since passed away
And will not be coming to slay or be slain.
I know it is written he’ll come with his sword
And kill me, with glory his only reward.
But why should I suffer? How can that be right
If Your creation was short by one knight?
All knights are at peace now: I ask You for no more.
It’s hard to believe I’ve got into this plight. 
I’ll summon my forces for one final roar:
God, why have I been left here with no one to fight?
James Roberts
Poet

I chose "The Last Dragon" by Irina Ratushinskaya because of her background, being imprisoned by the Russian government and sentenced to a seven-year term "for writing poetry" and her method of scribbling her poems on bars of soap, memorizing them, then 'washing away the evidence'. Ratushinskaya passed away on June 6, 2017.    

Poem source: Wind Of The Journey by Irina Ratushinskaya, translated by Lydia Razran Stone.  Chicago: Cornerstone Press, 2000. 

Find out more about the poet at poetryfoundation.org/poets/irina-ratushinskaya.

(Author photo from CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=659494)