Marlboro Man

You want to be the Marlboro Man:

The Caucasian cowboy

Who spends weeks in

Darkest Africa, but

Flies home to a perfect family

In white suburbia.

Before he crosses the threshold

His wife brushes down

His brown leather loafers.

To not track factory dust

Into the hardwood house.

The grease is still under his nails.

From fitting and turning

From sixteen

In the same tobacco plant

He runs (from) now.

His father worked there too.

And so, sick of the smell

Of uncured tobacco,

He has never smoked a day in his life.

He doesn’t smoke like his father did.

Vices don’t look the same.

Cheat days are infrequent.

He cheats a few times.

He drives the sportscar home drunk.

It makes him care less

When people blow smoke.

Stout heavy footsteps

Step cigarette lighter

When he can forget

Potential unrealized.

He is bored.

He hates his fireless life.

He hates his high school diploma.

Hates me most of all.

Caught smoking in the bathroom stall

Of the private school

He paid for.

Rolling paper on the roof

At the college

He brags to colleagues about.

With all the life he gives

While he remains unfree—

You want to be the Marlboro Man.

But the Marlboro Man wants to be me.

Hiding Place

For Mom

I found the perfect hiding place

Before you came to look.

Where doors are meant for shutting

And latches meant to hook.

He told me that he hid somewhere

And we could hide again—

You can be hidden almost anywhere

By the time you get to ten.

And the dark can feel warm,

The edges like your own,

You can learn to make anywhere

Feel like a home.

But there is a light from the hall

In the crack in the door—

This place is not the world,

I cannot hide here anymore.

So, I open my eyes,

And the game’s finally through.

I thought least of all

That you’d be hiding here too.

But games are meant to end,

And downward we count.

I’m going with or without you.

Come out, come out.