All the Sleeping Heroes
They came from their caves all together,
a great army of heroes
roused from their legendary slumber:
Frederick Barbarossa, outraged that
ravens no longer flew around his mountain;
Finn and the Fian warriors,
their wooden whistle blown by the wind,
Scotland’s sky gone mad with storm;
The Knights of Ållaberg, riding their
twelve fine horses, golden armor
wet with sweat in the warm winter;
Holger Danske, shaking the crumbs
of his marble table from his beard,
demanding to know if his dreams
of rising water in Denmark are dire truth;
King Arthur and his Court,
the Knights of the Round Table,
rising up to rescue England
from the fevered weather;
And Beauty, too, no longer Sleeping,
crowned with thorns and raging
about her slain roses.
Into the heart of Copenhagen they rode,
their silver-shod steeds
kicking sparks from the air,
a whole army of heroes.
The world leaders who had convened
all looked at each other
and hurriedly excused themselves.
The scientists looked at the legends,
looked away, and pretended devoutly
that they had seen nothing.
Then Merlin stepped forward and said,
“Well, lads, show us the problem!"
It was the youngest intern
who straightened his glasses,
slammed his report on the long table,
and laid out the threat of climate change.
Beauty slipped alertly into the chair beside him,
saying, “I’ll take the forests.”
Frederick Barbarossa said,
“And I’ll mind the mountains.”
Holger Dansk tossed his beard over his shoulder
and declared, “I’ll keep an eye on the oceans.”
So the heroes divided the Earth
and made plans to protect it
and did all the hard things
that no one else would do.
When they were done,
the agreements were posted
far and wide,
and the people cheered.
The former leaders were discovered,
when someone finally bothered to look,
in their assorted palaces and mansions
sound asleep and unwakeable.
The people planted rosebushes
all around the borders,
then walked away without looking back.