The Hero of the Story
By Bill Abbott

Don’t you wonder if there’s more to it than this?
Don’t you think there is?

I drive at high speeds parallel to the oncoming onslaught of traffic, inches away,
And my eye twitches sometimes,
And I think, not, “Is this it, then?”
Instead I think, “Is that all, then?”

We sit here with our acid reflux and our ADHD
And our food allergies and our medicine allergies
And our MRSA and our social anxiety disorders and our repetitive stress injuries
And we repetitively stress that we were meant for more than this
As we down a Big Gulp full of liquid sugar
And eat a cheese-coated slab of carbs
And then we work it off by our denial exercises:
No, we’re not responsible for that global warming.
No, we’re not responsible for that economic collapse.
No, we’re not responsible for that racism, sexism, rape culture, whistling void of madness leading so many of us to gun each other down or run each other down
No, we’re definitely not responsible for our kids turning out that way.
It’s not our fault. It’s not our fault!

You want to know why we’re watching so closely for the zombie apocalypse?
Why we want to catch the comet to heaven,
Why we want to fight the demons in the end-of-the-world comic books,
And perform the greatest deeds in the face of unholy, otherworldly adversity?
We believe ourselves the hero of this story
Despite the evidence,
And I’m right there with you, in the foxholes and the trenches,
Watching reality TV as if it’s reality,
Drinking the sugar water as if it’s nutritious,
Waiting to be the hero
Standing on top of the bodies of the enemy
In this walking dead series of hunger games

And I’ve been preparing,
Memorizing the purity, even in the face of moral ambiguity, of the lead character
Priming my reflexes on first-person shooters,
Hoarding as many doomsday supplies as my best intentions can remember,
(I’ll get started on that next week, I swear)

But we’re going to need our guns,
Our caffeine, our Cheetos, and our big-girl panties
Because we all know we’re meant for more than this silly
            Life of “quiet desperation”
And if you’re not ready to lay down some suppressing fire,
Then get out of my way
While I march asthmatically into the bright, bright future
Where I’ll finally get to be the hero.
That’s why I’m here, after all.

Bill Abbott is a poet, writer, and professor who has written a history of poetry slams in the Southeast, Let Them Eat MoonPie. He has performed poetry on many stages and published in several small-to-mid-sized presses over the years, including November 3rd Club. He is often credited with creating the Rust Belt Regional Poetry Festival. He lives with his wife and two children in Middletown, OH.