Speaking truth to power is all right for heroes,
It’s easy for them to sit at the front of the bus
And look out the window while the driver yells
And the rest of us squirm and sweat in our seats,
How sweet those bitter yelled words to heroes, how
They feel the lash like the smile of God upon them!
They lie down in front of the tanks, they stand up
To the firing squad, they hold their hearts in their hands
And laugh in a place deep inside with all of us watching,

We who quiver to strike out, scared to catch duck flu,
To take off our shoes outside the temple and walk in
Singing — all of us unready, unwilling, unraveling at
Stray dogs, salmonella, panhandlers, fundamentalists, rabid
Squirrels, ugly shoes, bad breath, shingles and love —
How are we supposed to say, Stop it, Stop it! Stop it!
When we are afraid to stop in dark places, afraid not
To stop and be polite to the corner Santa Claus,
To the president, the dogcatcher, the dentist,

Is it any wonder then we hate them, the heroes, is it
Any wonder we hang them from hemlocks, tear off
Their halos, let loose on them the wild dogs
Of our hateful admiration? They make life so hard
With their secret smiles beyond any comfort or pleasure,
Their prideful steps beyond any arrogance, their
Awful aloneness that doesn’t need us — don’t they see
How difficult they make it for us, how we would like
To give them a loan, a medal, a charitable foundation,

Anything, if they would only stop being themselves
For a minute, and just give us a chance to breathe?