Friday, November 26, 2010

Hero is a Four-Letter Word

‘A hero ain’t nothing but a sandwich.’ – American inner-city saying

‘Don’t talk to me about heroes
Most of these men sink like subs’
- Black Grape, ‘Kelly’s Heroes’

You may have thought that Spider-man was stoned
When, at the end of his first movie, he intoned
That his greatest gift doubled as his greatest curse
(Like being trapped in a marriage for better or for worse.)
Saving the world often leaves the hero drained and sad:
Sometimes "hero" is a four-letter word.

Superman could make an aeroplane look like a kite
But he became as weak as a child
On being introduced to some green kryptonite.
In fact, EVERY hero has his weakness -
Achilles’ heel, Samson's romantic heart, King David’s lust -
And when that secret thumbscrew is turned,
The hero cries while the villain laughs.

The high-flying Superman was really Clark Kent
And had to keep his feelings for a girl secret
Even though love was all over him like a tent.
Spider-man was actually the nerdy Peter Parker
And soon found himself in the same predicament!
(The masked Zorro also had a similar drama.)

Before turning green, the Incredible Hulk was no catch
And what was He-man without the Powers of Greyskull
Or Popeye without a helping of spinach?
Samson killed many Philistines and torched their corn patch
But when he gave away his secret and his locks were cut,
He became so pathetic, he made the audiences’ toes curl.
(Leave alone lions, he couldn’t kill a domestic cat.)

Like the cartoon heroes who live in duplicity,
Wearing masks to camouflage their real identity,
Real-life heroes also face all kinds of hostility
And would be safer if they had the power of invisibility!
Mandela was jailed, Martin Luther King Jr. assassinated,
Jesus crucified and Caesar stabbed to death in the Senate.
Joan of Arc must have really stirred the people's ire:
They tied her to a stake and set it ablaze and watched
As the flames lit up the night like St.Elmore's fire.

Yes, Spider-man was right about the gift and the curse.
Things are oftentimes not what they seem at first sight.
Sometimes the villain wins while the nice guys finish last.
I guess it all depends on how Fate’s dice is cast.
And those who think that all a superhero does is save the girl,
Slay the dragon and fly around like a bird
Are yet to learn that “hero” is a four-letter word.

(c) Alex N Nderitu

Buy Alexander Nderitu's prose and poetry books at:

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