Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Balrog

Posted by Rich Magahiz Fri, 14 Aug 2009 18:59:00 GMT

    I
Among the mountain roots,
The only sound at all
Was the alarm summoning the Balrog.

    II
I was triply lost
Like a chamber
In which there were three Balrogs.

    III
The Balrog boiled up dwarf-hewn tunnels
It was minutes to showtime.

    IV
A flame and burning
Are one.
A flame and burning and a Balrog
Are one.

    V
I do not know what works better
Rocks split by hate,
Or rocks split by fear,
The flame-sword of the Balrog
Or his damn whip.

    VI
Stones bridge broad chasms
Thanks to the trolls.
The man-shaped Balrog
Leapt over, facing East.
The grey one
Names in the darkness
A secret fire.


    VII
Goblins of
Khazad-dûm,
Why do you imagine dragon hoards?
Do you not see how the Balrog
Turns his black-gold eyes
Toward the surface?

    VIII
I know the Black Speech
And the drums that go Doom;
But I know, obviously,
That the Balrog is crucial
To what I know.

    IX
When the Balrog reached First Deep
A trail of smoke
Arched gently.


    X
At the sight of a Balrog
With a whip of thongs
Even Durin’s wife
Would squeal with excitement.

    XI
They made for the Great Gate
Stumbling and shoving.
Once, a fear shook them
In that they mistook
The shadow of an ogre
For a Balrog.

    XII
The bridge is smitten.
The Balrog must be plummeting.

    XIII
It was getting dark early
And down there
It was always dark.
The Balrog on shift
Did not clock out.

Obligatory attribution
Accepted for publication at Dreams and Nightmares
Nominated for a 2011 Rhysling Award (long poem) for the SFPA.

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