Heroes

How can we know the terrible stillness
And the quiet despair of mental illness,
The anguish, the hopeless, helpless doler,
Of the melancholic, depressed or bi-polar?

Is your hero an athlete, an artist, a warrior?
But consider now the lonely martyr
At war with SELF in dark dismal rooms
Who survives somehow, and perhaps overcomes,

And may even rise to place their name
In the rolls of honor and halls of fame.
Let these be the heroes we most revere
And the others of whom we never hear.

In music, literature, even baseball
Beethoven, J.K. Rowling, and Jimmy Piersall.
Patty Duke, Abe Lincoln, Clara Barton,
Isaac Newton, Emma Thompson, Dolly Parton,

Lady Gaga, Jane Pauley, Edgar Allen Poe,
Ellen Degeneres, Vincent Van Gogh,
Theodore Roethke, William Styron, Graham Greene,
And thousands of others never seen

Who rise, or struggle to rise, from beneath
Landscapes sewn with dragons’ teeth,
Where you and I may never stray
In deserts of desiccate dismay.

Let these be the ones we celebrate
The unknown, the nearly, or really great.
Let us be humble in the face of these
Who were bowed so low, but rose from their knees.