The Marlboro Man dusts off his Wranglers,
crouches down next to cast iron skillets
circling the blinking edge of the small fires
last cracked breaths, and eyes his smokes like bullets
in a box, this one for food, this last one
for survival. He strokes the leather where
his boot grows too tight, feels the foot like stone
from some ancient statue with a stoic stare,
eyes hidden inward like pits in rotten
plums. He leans close, lighting a cigarette
on a tired coal yawning goodnight. Cold then
bites, and Marlboro shakes off the darks net
with denim. He leaves his body to tend
to instinct, and turns his back on the wind.
* * *
Clay Matthews has published in numerous pieces in Southeast Missouri State University's Journey, a number of book reviews in The Big Muddy, and gave a creative presentation at the 2002 Twentieth-Century Literature Conference.