Let My Left Hand Lose Its Cunning

Judges 3 v. 15-31

Moabite Swordmaster
Watch his right, Your Highness, watch his eyes
and then his hand again. Now, shield arm up
and shift your feet Sir, step, don’t shuffle. Here
it comes now, up and to the left. Don’t shut
your body in for God’s sake. Keep it high
against the way the swords swing in. Holy
Moloch,  on your feet. We’ve work to do – while I
beat princes into soldiers you, My Lord
will leam to pass the beating on to Israel.
But first, by God, you’ll learn to stay alive.

What? Dead, you say? Well l’ll be damned. It’s strange
to think of him as quiet. “Watch the way
his right swings in” he’d roar. That watching’s kept
me king these thirty years. He knew his trade.
You’ll see to things yourself, don’t stint. Arrange
full honours mind. Now, let’s get on. What’s next?
God! not another snivelling plea conveyed
by some meek Israelite. That’s all I need!
Well, send him in – I haven’t got all day.

The king of Moab drains across the floor.
My hand hangs awkwardly again. They’ll jeer
but grudging nods will follow and besides
this stigma of left-handedness appears
to matter less when kings need killing or
there’s work along the walls. When peace returns
and brings it’s smiles and sneers again l’ll pray
to God for cunning in my other hand
and then l’ll go unnoticed. But for now
I wouldn’t have it any other way.


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