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Backdropp Addresses Cowboy

 Starspangled cowboy 
sauntering out of the almost-
silly West, on your face 
a porcelain grin, 
tugging a papier-mache cactus 
on wheels behind you with a string, 


you are innocent as a bathtub
full of bullets.
Your righteous eyes, your laconic trigger-fingers people the streets with villains: as you move, the air in front of you blossoms with targets and you leave behind you a heroic trail of desolation: beer bottles slaughtered by the side of the road, bird- skulls bleaching in the sunset.
I ought to be watching from behind a cliff or a cardboard storefront when the shooting starts, hands clasped in admiration, but I am elsewhere.
Then what about me what about the I confronting you on that border you are always trying to cross? I am the horizon you ride towards, the thing you can never lasso I am also what surrounds you: my brain scattered with your tincans, bones, empty shells, the litter of your invasions.
I am the space you desecrate as you pass through.

by Margaret Atwood
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