in judgment

this blade has seemed as righteous
as its cut has proven razor sharp
rarely taking more or less than just
even where it took the whole of life

wielding it was no easy task
not after the first few long swings
those which drew both blood and breath
in the form of execution

but it was still lighter long ago
when youth and oath gave strength enough
to judge a cause without remorse
and act with full conviction

wisdom was not mine in those days
it belonged to another generation
elders who could still an anxious hand
against recklessness or anger

they were deliberate mentors
acknowledging few absolutes
aware so much remained unknown
despite our diligent search for truth

their words of warning understood
only after self-inflicted wounds
wounds whose scars, invisible to most
move me to my most thoughtful actions

and now, the next to fall awaits
a life, forfeit by its evil deeds
in circumstances so compelling
the mightiest of blows would be too kind

and i can swing away, hard and fair
and i will, right after this next breath
though the weight of souls and lessons past
has slowed what was a quick ambition

behind me, some apprentice sits
no doubt confused by my delay
having held the blade without its burden
felt the strength without its consequence

i wonder what they learn, watching me
if i teach them as well as i was taught
and if so, what they take away
in this moment of conscious hesitation

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