No Hero

The shadow veils itself
as it goes to do its evil,

sneaking the putrid shell
of a despot into the ground at noon.

No ancient gods could bless that soil,
no long pull of forgiveness. But now

the secretive cortege arrives to tamp
and cover the derelict body—

Real martyrs lie in that burial-place:
the best of their years drained

from fighting tyranny; their bones
cracked and dented; many with missing

organs. The body is a hollow vessel.
It is not what swims through cracks

in shale, not what flames out
like flowers above the grass.

Not the world’s weight in plundered
gold and diamonds could ransom it

from time. Not even a plot on hallowed
ground could change the record of a nation’s

unhealed suffering. Let the mind remember, then.
Let the heart’s documents be the last to go.

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