Saturday, May 28, 2016

Ode on a Cowboy’s Ass by Derrick Austin

Ode on a Cowboy’s Ass

As if from faded tintypes, wanted signs,
and film, symbol of the Wild West, proud man
without a cattle drive, and lacking all
intent to prove your worth, except with rake
and gardening gloves, God bless those Wranglers
pressed against your ass. Strutting to the shed,
your gait is clipped (friction’s way of saying
strike a pose). You’re the real deal: belt buckle,
farmer’s tan sans T-shirt. I’d pay a grand—
a million to build the Lone Star State
a Louvre, to see you statuesque and nude.
Darling, let’s get Aristotelian.
The space between denim seams divided
by our distance equals a golden mean.

But there’s no time for symmetry and math.
You work fast. Etymology will do—
not “cowboy” but those globes of  yours. That ass,
I’ve wasted too much time on wit, conceit.
Bless the sailor sick of rot and salt, blue-
balled on the docks, who caught an arse so snug
in whites he clipped the useless letters off.
Off they went to explore each other’s worlds
until their stars were spent, at last exhaust
the possibilities of tongue. But seas
and language mean nothing to you, trimming
hedges under the wax-white summer sun,
shirtless but for threads of sweat and pale grass.
All men need new beginnings and here’s yours:

You pound elements into submission,
no time for airs when earth must be molded
and made useful. Your ass plows vacant plots.
Your ass builds nations. Your ass is epic
in dirty jeans like James Dean’s in Giant.
In the age of cant and kitsch, can beauty
be heroic? You bend to weed your lawn,
ripping crabgrass heads like ragged denim
as muscle fibers fray and mend, borders
of a nation, your body one country
I see myself moving in. My cowboy,
is this how men are made? Rolling in dirt?
Your end is where I begin. Pen in hand:
Sing, O muse, of the ass of Achilles.


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