At twelve I had a crush on the Marlboro man–
rugged, self-reliant, riding in his dusty cloak,
lone hero of the American west,
protector of our freedom.
I thought I needed a cowboy to rescue me
from bad guys and Indians.
I should have let it go when he died of lung cancer,
but I didn’t look deep enough,
didn’t see beyond the billboard bullshit.
Years later, I drive with my family on WY 296,
Chief Joseph Scenic Byway,
over Dead Indian Pass.
I feel sick,
And I don’t think it’s the winding road.
I’m done with macho white myths,
let the dust cloak my need for their protection.
I’m done with freedom’s gun-toting guardians,
let them rescue the 4th amendment instead.
I’m over cowboys,
let them ride into the sunset for good.
–Susie Rinehart 06/10/20