Like an uncertain monstrosity, the laughing cowboy surveys the wild plain

taking in the artificial sheep and monumental lanyards,

the percolating fences that manipulate local disdain.

For too many pavements he’d squandered his cigarette charisma,

rubbing his beard stubble vociferously in a gesture that drove the laundresses to drink.

He calypsoed at Gilbert’s Diner, sashaying in front of the mashed potatoes carousel,

fingers poking out of his pockets and eyes hooded with knowing nonchalance.

He’d known too many women to recapitulate,

even using his efficient pocket calculator from the drug store.

Maladust, the befuddled sheriff, provided free custard to anyone who’d look away

while the transparent donkeys performed burlesque routines outlawed in most other towns.

It wasn’t as easy as the days when brain-dead Hilda made a display of reticence,

chomping on lipstick the shade of embarrassed nectarines.

“You can’t find trains like that in the old world,” she muttered, nursing a tomato hangover.

She cavorted with menacing toothpaste in a show everyone knew to be planned,

squeezing the green malignancy from the giant tube

with a grin that any dentist would shiver to behold.

She’d offer to sleep through anyone’s resilience,

proferring her arcane plant knowledge afterward,

pulling obscure thistles from her apron pockets

bewildering the veteran men with tales of creosote

and bursting into laughter at a windy provocation.

“History is for the hysterical,” she’d whisper in an unctuous tone

before drawing the gingham covers over her head.

It remained only for old Doc Hallway to extract a mint cornhusk from the dining table.

“Don’t let your laundry obstruct your better nature,”

he would counsel, sinking his head onto the greasy bar.

“I’ve absorbed the scorn of a woman tossed,” he’d somehow enunciate,

his mouth a rubbered distortion. “Let’s take the parade to hunkytown and dangle the miasma.”

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