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Long Beach, CA

The Heroes in Black and White I

Poetry Blog

The Heroes in Black and White I

Brandon Cook

They, too, were surrounded by all the sad weight of afternoon sunlight
When you can't quite engage the gears of your heart or mind
Or be the person you want to be
And so instead you just keep running towards the night

We look back at how cool they were, their strong arms loping over the fence,
Staring slant-eyed at the camera, all cool
A cigarette dangling, restrained by soft hands, manicured

That’s what we want
To bear it all like Atlas, this weight of us
And play chicken with it, unblinking

But after the shoot they also went home and felt all the places they could not go
The person they could not be
And the charade of themselves in which they were now encased

All the life happening around them on highways they could not drive
Lined with houses and “normal people” living lives
Who adored and extolled them
And weren’t any different,
Grinding their infinite desire on finite stones
Trying to put some fine point on it

No wonder so many of them went crazy--
Drowned in a bottle or a pool
When you’re supposed to have it all and can’t make sense of it
You’re the greater fool

And when money only proves to gorge but never fill you
And regrets pile up day by day by day
As you discover how far the image is from something strong and real
That you could have a seat and rest upon--
It’s all fool’s gold

All any of us want is so simple, really
A hand to hold that holds us, not because of the sheen or shine of us
Or a diamond resting entwined on us
But the beautiful mess so near to us, which has real weight
And can truly hold and kiss and make love

They were heroes, yes, perhaps,
But not how we thought
They, the martyred ones, sacrificed
Like pyres burning, warning us to take a different path
Or at the least, to walk wisely, discerning glitter from gold  

Though we all line up, still
And drop a bill to watch their progeny on the screen
For a moment, to feel that thrill
The wise know all the while
That life’s weight is mostly held unheralded
And very rarely are they filmed or screened--
The unseen heroes of this world