Proud- an original poem

Knight by the Lake
Knight by the Lake” by David Hong

I remember the day when they
draped this satin cloak around my neck,
and kissed my shoulders with steel.
It was an honor, you see, a blessing
from the faceless gods that I
did not deserve.
I was proud, that day.

I remember the day when I
watched a naked man be beaten bloody
because he dared to ask for coin
to feed his children.
I looked away, unblinking, and
pretended I did not see.
I was proud, that day.

I remember the day when they
sent me off to a stripped land
to set it afire and milk it of gold.
It was my duty, you see, and I
marched forth steely-eyed and stone-eared,
drowning out the screams.
I was proud, that day.

I remember the day when I
tasted the bitter tang of war, and
cut down foes with a sword that
did not feel like mine.
They were boys, I killed, greener
than the grass; but still,
I was proud, that day.

This title I bear as champion of good
is paper armor on a dying ghost,
for I’m no knight who wears satin cloaks
and says his vows in earnest.
I’m proud, I know, and my eyes
are caked in blood and ash;
but now I think I see.

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