“Too fat! Too thin! Too glad! Too grim!
Too black! Too white! Too dark! Too light!
Too rich! Too poor! Too smart! Too sure!
How do you ever hope to gain a compliment from us?
“You mention our great enemy, yet not in pure disgust?
Here’s a list of things for you to do that might win back our trust.
Supporting last week’s noble cause? Have you no sense of shame?
This week’s outrage is what matters, this is not a game!
“Abase yourself for all the crimes your ancestors ignored!
(At least, according to the meagre records we’ve restored.)
Your shouts are far from shrill enough, denounce, denounce, denounce!
Or else it seems to us you’re one of them, by all accounts.”
I stumble from the pedestal no broader than a hair,
I’m trampled on by hundreds scrambling to climb up on there.
I stand and walk away from the shining razor blade
of their presumed approval, and as their voices fade,
I find, to my surprise, that the world doesn’t end.
This and other poems on the subject of wisdom, folly, everday and epic heroism and beauty can be found in Selected Verse – Heroes and Wonders