Eric Bloodaxe was a tenth century Norwegian ruler.
His given surname was Haraldsson,
but everybody called him “Eric Bloodaxe”
because it sounded cool as hell
and also he loved to hack people to bits.
He murdered his half-brothers,
and for a while he tried out the nickname
“Eric the Killer of Brothers.”
This second sobriquet never really caught on
and anyway, he probably found it limiting
because did he not use his axe to slay
sisters, fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters, too?
Which makes me wonder if he didn’t feel a little constrained by the whole “Bloodaxe” thing as well.
Sure, he liked to lop off heads with one smooth, practiced swing
but I imagine him picking up a dagger from time to time
and, like a poet reading prose,
his mind going dizzy with the myriad possibilities,
wondering, What if…?