To the gates of Valhalla


on the far ridge is the face of death
a band of men standing shoulder to shoulder
breasts throbbing with pounding emotion
first come the arrows and catapulted boulders
then heavy battle ax will meet with shields
disconnected flesh will yield men’s howls
metal flat parries piercing sword
eviscerating blows exposing hidden bowels
the battlefield indiscriminately claims souls
humble civilians turned into Odin’s fierce warriors
farmers, fishmongers, blacksmiths and herdsmen
another brave viking sent to join the Einherjars
where enemy becomes neighbor under the shields
accompanying all of the other fallen to meet Thor
no longer fearing Loki in the face of death
lifting a chalice under the light of shimmering swords
eating our full of roast boar and vintage wine

perhaps this day these warriors will breathe their last
between today and tomorrow the door to Helviti will open
the funeral pyres are being prepared by kinsmen, already
by nightfall we will know who’s bodies will stoke them
and hope they feast with Odin and the Einharjars
not having to cross Gjallarbru to the land of the dead
waiting patiently to be reunited with the rest of their clan
restfully enjoying the hearth and its bounty, being well fed
forgoing the torture of the oblivion in the hole

fight well then brothers, let your swords be fast
may your axes be true and your shields protect you
keep senses sharp and reflexes always at ready
so we can celebrate our victory with strong, cold brew
but should this day the last of your story with us
we will praise Odin to hold your place in Valhalla
burn the fire bright leaving your broadsword in hand
while we drink with you in spirit and tell of your saga
may you ride with Odin on the back of Sleipnir


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