“Hero” by Ian Williams

Ian Williams


The hero wins
because that’s what heroes do when you spend
the money to buy the DVD of a movie you already
know the ending to, not because you’ve seen it before
but because you heard from a colleague in HR
that it’ll make you feel real good after,
it was the best thing she’s seen lately, and that’s
with her being married and every morning pushing spoons
into the faces of her two children
so you watch it
knowing the only thing that will make you feel good
this evening is seeing a bare-chested man wail on another
in a ring and another in a street and another in a ring
in slow mo and the dff dff sounds of the gloves striking
bodies in movies, which don’t sound like bodies for real,
not that you’d admit to knowing that,
and the hero
doesn’t even look like heroes in the real world
which are not the heroes in grade four essays either
but this one time—stay with me—you dropped by a woman’s place
and you were sitting at her kitchen table and she asked you
if you wanted anything to drink and she opened the fridge
and you saw through the crack between her body
and the door only a pitcher of water on the wire shelf
in the yellow light—you want to call her a hero
because she’s surviving with her mouth shut
or yourself because you’re so affected must mean
you’re noble. Go ahead. But there are other words
for you two.

from Rattle #31, Summer 2009
Tribute to African American Poets


Ian Williams: “Last month it seemed like a good idea to join some friends and write a poem a day for an entire month. It still seems like a good idea—so far, so good—but I don’t know for how long. Everyone keeps telling me that eventually I’ll be spitting out phlegm and calling it juice. If you haven’t yet, try the punch.” (website)

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