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Poem: "The Face of a Hero" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
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Poem: "The Face of a Hero"
This is the linkback perk originally hosted by dialecticdreamer for the September 2, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl.  It's spillover from the March bonus fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from chordatesrock and ellenmillion.  This poem also fills the "spring/autumn" square in the Spring and Autumn Bingo public card.  Linkers include janetmiles, aldersprig, technoshaman, book_worm5, DW users helgatwb and chanter_greenie; plus I've finished the missing verses thanks to various folks boosting signal for this month's bonush fishbowl to come.  This poem belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.


The Face of a Hero



On a blustery March morning,
the Sculptress discovered
a new aspect to her talent:

if somebody saw himself
with superpowers,
she could turn the talent
from latent to active.

She tried very hard
not to think of herself
as a vat of toxic waste.

Joe-Bob Abercombie
saw himself as a hero,
and wanted her help
to get from here to there.

The Sculptress told him
about the kinds of things
that she could or could not do.

Sheila warned him about
unexpected consequences
and urged him to think carefully,
but thinking wasn't his strong suit.

So the Sculptress did her trick,
and Joe-Bob went from being
a big guy with a beer belly
to being a handsome man with
a square jaw and broad shoulders,
who could hold up a truck with one hand
and change its tire with the other.

He dressed up in barn-red dexflan
with white trim and a cape of country blue
that fluttered in the brisk spring breeze,
only to discover that being a hero was work
and people didn't look up to him
quite the way he wanted.

So Joe-Bob complained to the Sculptress.

"You can put lipstick on a pig,"
she said, "but that don't mean
anybody wants to kiss it."

He went away bitterly disappointed.
For months he came back,
sometimes two or three times in a week,
hoping that the Sculptress could fix
whatever had gone wrong.

She couldn't.

It was like watching
the promise of daffodils
done away by a killing frost.

"I tried to warn him,"
Sheila said sadly.

"You did the best you could.
He just can't shoulder the weight,"
the Sculptress told her.
"Without a backbone to hold it up,
a cape is just a tablecloth."

That was the real problem with Joe-Bob.

She could make him super,
but she couldn't make him a hero.

* * *

Notes:

Champ Man (Joe-Bob Abercombie) -- Joe-Bob is a big man from a small town, who wants to be more. He has ruddy skin and blue eyes. His dark blond hair bleaches almost white under the summer sun. Although he started out rather dumpy-looking, after visiting the Sculptress he became classically handsome and muscular, with a square jaw and broad shoulders.
Origin: Joe-Bob went to the Sculptress because he saw himself as superhero. She could make him super, but she couldn't make him a hero.
Uniform: Barn red dexflan jumpsuit with linen white trim and a cape of country blue capery. Off duty, Joe-Bob still tends to dress in country colors, often blue coveralls over a red shirt.
Qualities: Good (+2) Big Family, Good (+2) Guns & Hunting, Good (+2) Handyman, Good (+2) Hey, Y'all, Watch This!, Good (+2) Tough
Poor (-2) Not Too Bright
Powers: Average (0) Super-strength
Motivation: Make something of himself -- the easy way.

* * *

Being a hero is hard work.  It is based not just on heroic qualities and a heroic journey, but also on a fundamental desire to serve others.  So if you want to become a hero, expect it to take a lot of time and effort.

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