Part 2

 On  Having or Not Having Heroes

I thought I had given up on the idea of Heroes
those advertisements for unjust institutions,
Heroes with a thousand faces---
some use them as church or corporate logos
some as cultural poster boys and girls for a state
some extoll them as saints,
but I lost interest in Krishna
when I learned Arjuna taught him to kill for god,
and Marx and Lenin were no sweethearts,
they were as mean as the Robber Barons
and no less bent on "conquest" of nature.
Sweet"Uncle Joe" Stalin left
 millions of frozen corpses in the Gulag
and Einstein had the blood of Nagasaki on his fingers
and what about those "Great White" Hunters
standing on piled up bones of Buffalo or
a dead Elephant, its terrorized
baby hiding somewhere in the brush.
Some Hero,  killing a mother Elephant or Elk
and hanging the head on a wall.

Thank goodness the age of Prophets and Kings is over.
Now if we could only stop human-centeredness
and corporate empires, the earth might have a chance.
Religion embodied many hopes and dreams of humanity
and could be  full of sweetness and beauty.
Those without hope in a world of pain
need comfort, even if it comes from fictional aids
but all too often,
religion was there merely to supply illusions at a price
either in coin or moral entrapment
and its appeal to desperate human longings
was unhealthily mixed with the injustices of power
class, caste, social and mind control
of many by the few.
I love and honor the longings, hopes, fears
and pains at the basis of religion
but renounce its exploitation of ignorance,
its alliances with unjust powers
and its use of superstition, threat and mythic falsehoods.
Most of histories heroes are mere actors in fairy tales
made to accustom the minds of children to adult cruelty
and teach submission to the poor.

I have put away these childish things
exalted icons and "Founding Fathers".
George Washington stole his wealth from Indians
and Jefferson, propped up by slaves,
planned the destruction of
the Western tribes.
No more great men for me, thanks,
and all those Grail seekers and
wanna-be god-men with so many corpses
in their wake, ready to sacrifice
women and children, birds, forests and animals
and anything else that stands in their way
to reach THE ultimate truth, the most money
the biggest house or Cathedral, the trophies of power---
all vain mountain climbers in the geography of greed
or climbers up the mythic mountains of chimerical symbols.
I free myself of flags, gold chalices, sculpted stone smiles
and animal heads on walls.
I respect mountains too much to climb them.

I donít believe in heroes anymore
or their poetic and beautiful lies.
For too long poetry has dressed up ugly, unjust men
in inflated, gorgeous clothes, kings and Party Leaders
Presidents and Prophets appareled like verbal wedding cakes
with whipped cream made of corpses,
My imagination no longer has transcending sails
and I row a small ordinary boat, a little skiff,
into the infinite closeness of sand grains
seeking where the water caresses the land
and land holds the water as tenderly
as a human hand strokes a childís hair.
I want a poetry of grass blades touching my face
small as rabbits ears and entwined through the tiny wrinkles
on the edges of an old woman's eyes.
I prefer the shy faces or large ears of Field Mice
to grandiloquent Superheroes.
I like caterpillars resting on leaves better than Ulysses.
My imagination folds its wings
and perches itself in the intimacy of birdís eyes.
No more of Perceval and Milarepa,
Nietzschean Supermen, Zarathustrean Globalizers
Osiris, Dionysius, Crosses or Cresents
and "Saints" perched on columns---
no more human advertizements of the New World Order,
Wall Street Billionaires,
the One and Only Church,
or the One and Only corporate Bank,
No Buddha or Confucius
or TV Nazis selling neo-colonialism
or the church of the highest standard of living.

The "Great Books" are often full of sublime nonsense
unlike the book of leaves and animals eyes
or the book of forests and waters.
I do not admire Achilles
or the many bliblical Icons
looking down on everyone in judgement from church walls.
A real butterfly is Icon enough for me.
I want no gold-leaf ,eternal world made only for the rich
looking down on those "below" with contempt
the whole world a "vale of tears" a "round of existnce"
a place of sin and death.
I want nothing to do with world-denying heroes.
I deny the insane greed of Alexander the Great, Napoleon
Mao, conquerors or "explorers"
exploiters of the Arctic and Amazon
atoms and DNA,
who took what was not theirs for god or profit.
I prefer the whiskers of chipmunks
or the way a cat curls up on a blanket.
Beware of prophets and gods and the pure
paragons of perfection
like puffed up heroes in comic books.
Whoever claims the total truth
or the ultimate Idea or perfection
look for cracks in the cold glass.
No one and nothing is perfect.
Empires, myths and "Sons of Gods"
come and go,
but leaves in the wind
the soft edges of clouds
sunlight on the cheeks of squirrels
and bird beaks picking seeds
all persist.

But itís true, I suppose
"a working class hero is something to be"
though Lennon probably was
being ironic when he sang this---
I like some of John Lennonís songs--
he doesnít seem to have harmed anyone---
and maybe Ghandi, who was fallible
or Martin Luther King, who wasnít perfect either.
Jane Goodall loved the Chimpanzees.
But there are many nameless imperfect folks
who do the best they can---
despite the hindering powers that surround them--
some who fought slavery
or fight for animal or human rights
oppose insurance and medical companies
exploiting the sick and old
stand up for justice against corporate greed
or seek a good way to live
without harm to nature or others.
I admire all of these
But I wouldnít call them heroes, exactly.
Good human beings, for all their faults.

So I had given up on the idea of heroes
until I found a baby bird a few years ago
who struggled from an egg in an Orioles nest
and fought its way to learn to fly.
I learned at last that the real heroes are very small
not much bigger than a seed or egg
or maybe as big as a baby bird, red squirrel
or a baby human
as yet undistorted by institutions.
If someone tries to sell me something
bigger than life
I look around for the con-game
because nothing is bigger than life
and the grandest things
in all of life
are the littlest things
where it all begins.
I have no religion
except love of the actual.
I have faith in the eyes of Oriole babies
and the colors of sunset on the seas.
I belong to the church of air and water,
the temple of wetlands,
and have no other prayers
then the sounds of birds and the wind
and the tree on the hill top that
holds itself up, just like my beating heart
by the love of life.
There is nothing so important
as a fawn lying down, nuzzling leaves
or a frog sitting in warm water
next to a water lily
glowing in sunlight.
There is nothing that matters more
than the education of the young
and love of what is small or humble.
All praise to pebbles and grass blades,
and an old woman's wrinkled hands,
and the trusting look of babies.
Humans have invented many deities,
but deities come and go,
like figments in a dream.
No god matters more to me
or to the earth
than a baby bird.