David Olsen

Double Bill

Randolph Scott was twice my height
when a child’s ticket cost 20 cents
and a bag of popcorn was a dime.

The Movietone newsreel was first
(propaganda about a war somewhere),
then the A feature (often women’s fare
with twin beds, kissing and tears),
and a Looney Tunes or Disney cartoon.
Last came the B picture, usually
a western to satisfy a man’s thirst
for action, or lust for adventure.

I rode on cattle drives from Texas
to the railhead somewhere north,
chewed popcorn from the chuck wagon
while a campfire flickered nearby,
or worried through gunfights when
the white hat’s six-gun never ran out
and black hats’ shots always missed.
A pretty woman might be in peril
from wild Indians or Mexican rustlers.
A blood feud about a dead brother
might motivate the plot. Through it all,
Randolph Scott stood lean and tall.

And still grown men re-enact frontier
heroics in Stetson hats and boots
with high heels and pointed toes,
carry guns, and vote Republican.

Before moving to Oxford in 2002,
David earned a BA in chemistry from
the University of California at Berkeley,
an MA in creative writing from San
Francisco State University, and an MBA in management from Golden Gate University. He has published four full collections and four chapbooks. A victim of childhood polio and disabled by CFS/ME in adulthood, he was formerly a polymer technologist, energy economist, management consultant,
and performing arts critic.