Cleopatra’s oarsmen testify

The oarsmen on our quinqueremes were ill,
Malarial, and not inclined to row.
The grub was short, and that makes soldiers slow,
Lethargic when they should be keen to kill.
To make it worse, the enemy was fit
Well-armed, prepared, supplied with every need.
While we could barely reach our ramming speed,
Their far-shot arrows slaughtered all they hit.
If we could bring some order to our fleet,
Regroup, attack the weakest of their ships!
But then she breaks the line. His right hand grips
The railing as he watches her retreat.
At Actium, we thought our cause was strong
As love and life could make it. We were wrong.

Originally posted on Making Light