Today I was to write a poem about a mythical person or creature doing something unusual – or at least something that seems unusual in relation to that person/creature.
While I may have skirted the “mythical person/creature” intent of this prompt into a mythical persona, my poem jibes with a contemporary American myth, my real life, and my reading of Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove and other books.
The Marlboro Men
Some didn’t smoke nor drink. Some hated horses.
First, for thirty years he was the
as soft as May she,
the lady who smoked, then she transitioned
into a tough, rugged, solitary, successful,
sometimes gay, mythical but authentic cowboy—
the sexiest of the sexist real men to face cancer.
Born with The Magnificent Seven’s memorable music,
growing and coming of age while riding
our cultural waves of the cold war, rock & roll,
civil and women’s rights; adverts were
icons of destiny for the decidedly deceived,
counters for conservative control
of our changing values.
The Big-un, the real one, a cowboy myth
to market coffin nails
and sell cowboy killers
to callow, naive boys who
never did and never will ride a horse
or be close enough to smell a cow.
The idolized hat, saddle, and boots of the Colorado rancher,
a friend to the duke, who took twelve years to
awaken to the wisdom of his being bought
to kill his own kin.
Was the demise of the man, the myth, and the cowboy the lie?
Was the image of what such men meant tarnished
by tobacco’s tar, nicotine, addiction, disease, and death?
What men or women deserve to be our exemplars?
Are the anonymous quitters, the rebels, those
who turn and fight for right; are they, the proven people,
our legitimate, proper heroes? Or is true grit bogus?
Look both ways while riding the trails of western myth.
There is a truth to be found, but it’s now more than a hundred years,
and thousands of movies, ads, and commercials later.
Mind the gaps in the lies of marketing and advertising.
Too much to gloss: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marlboro_Man