Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "What Makes a Hero"

This poem came out of the August 7, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from ankewehner and sponsored by rix_scaedu.  It belongs to the series The Ocracies, and you can read more about that on the Serial Poetry page.


What Makes a Hero


The ambassadors were arguing again
about whose nation had the best hero.

The Hipparchy of Helgi said
that you could always tell a true hero
based upon the quality of his horse,
by which they meant the stallion Imperial Stamp,
by which they meant his rider Philip the Invincible
who had raised the famous stud from a colt.

The Plutocracy of Aurea insisted
that of course it meant the most successful,
by which they meant the most wealthy,
by which they meant Rodolphus Goldenplate,
whose armor outshone the sun
and whose bejewelled helmet
could have served quite well inside a lighthouse.

The Hoplarchy of Ledes dismissed both
as irrelevant, and asserted that a hero's standing
depended entirely upon his military acumen,
by which they meant his rank,
by which they meant the First General of the Army
who had won dozens of battles
and never been defeated in the field.

The Bonocracy of Ophele delicately suggested
that perhaps heroism should be decided
by the most heroic act of all, that of saving a life.
The other ambassadors shared a suspicious look
and then allowed that this was fair.

The Ambassador of Ophele said,
"Well then, it must be our senior diplomat Axel,
who has prevented no fewer than six major wars.
I estimate that he has saved more lives by doing so
than all of your other heroes put together."

The Ambassador of Aurea frowned
and flicked her hands over her abacus,
calculating the typical number of deaths in a war
and comparing Axel's estimated salvation rate
against the known exploits of the other heroes.

Then she sighed and said, "You win."

Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, politics, reading, writing
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