Highway Cowboys
They have a steering wheel in their hands,
instead of reins; their horses have tires
instead of hooves, and eat petroleum, not hay;
the range they're at home on is the road,
not dusty trails, pastures, or feed lots;
their feet are on pedals, not stirrups, and
they step down from a cab-seat, not a saddle...
still, I know they're cowboys,
these men I mingle with at truck-stops—
modern cowboys,
highway cowboys—
because they've got cowboy boots on, and
jeans, and leather belts with big buckles, and
cowboy shirts, with snap buttons:
everything but ten-gallon hats.

These costumes tell me that my brother truckers
are the inheritors of a complex tradition
made from equal parts of illusion and reality,
their nomadic lives embodying a contemporary
version of the fantasy of freedom that the cowboy
represents in American mythology, though
the fellas at the truck-stop arrived on the scene
a little too late to punch cattle, or spread bed-rolls
around a campfire, or sing under the stars, while
herding steers from Abilene to Kansas City.

Even so, strangely enough,
lots of these guys do walk
kind of bowlegged