Jerusalem is on edge. The Saracen make ready
to batter God’s castle –
even the bravest men, blood-weary,
dread this battle.
Our wives and children wait
for our return from war, for Christ
and his Trinity.
God cannot stop them: they do not
believe in Jesus –
all they want is victory
and their share of riches.
They trade in faith and blood,
books and swords:
fine coin and cloth understood
better than the Word.
Smoke rises from below. The shouts
of Allahu Akhbar
mingle with the stink of corpses
rotting under stars.
Time flashes like steel. They stand
fearing the attack — now
we call for war, the fiend is risen:
we walk the well-worn path.
Born in Scotland, James W. Wood lives in Canada and is the author of three pamphlets of poetry and the full-length collection The Anvil's Prayer (2013). Work's appeared in the TLS, Poetry Review, The North, Stand, Critical Quarterly, London Magazine, AGNI (USA); Fiddlehead (Canada) and many others.