In the mid 1950’s, when only 10
at Christmas my parents’ gift:
a black & white TV star’s Lone Ranger Cowboy outfit
that included his trademark black face mask
hiding the actor, Clayton Moore’s eyes.
His mask, emblem of Western law and order.
Mexican American Cisco Kid & comic sidekick Pancho
Wearing rounded sombreros & frayed handkerchiefs-
Western bank robbers wore in hold ups.
Oh dreams of Grecian fighters Ulysses & Achilles
Repeated in my cowboy myth!

My dad had rented out a duplex
directly across the narrow 1950’s asphalt street
from Saint Paul’s
the stucco ginger Catholic church
and behind it the same architectural
features revealed in the lengthy school building.
I, my sister, brothers’ maroon plaid
white shirted uniforms
could be observed Mon thru Fri
in classroom studying postures
& outdoors playing boys’ softball or girls’ dodge ball

The teachers:
Benedictine nuns, recruited from Saint Leo Priory
located beside a lake, North of Tampa.
One nun idealistic, in her twenties
matured in her faith
within a Homer Louisiana family;
gentle but firm
She taught me in the 1st grade.
One nun, the principal, Sister Carmen
practical disciplinarian
From Spanish-speaking Colombia
Allowed her nuns to use a ruler
To tap the knuckles of unruly students.
She favored me because my father
taught there.

All dressed in habits
all black over heads with white hardened necks-
looking like & texture of hospital casts

The country’s covid corona pandemic.
In 2022 masks are mandatory or optional
Which policy
fluctuates like the abrupt gusts of winter days.
Vaccinate! Needles noses piercing skin

Boosters protect us like bullet proof vests
Then can we rest assured
Evading severe sickness, death
Social distancing getting closer
Prisoners, school kids and hospital patients
Morph into glaring giant statements
That must be daily interviewed
On HD TV news.

Back Then TV cowboys wounded, killed
With six guns.
Manifest Destiny obsessed
During the westward movement.
So acting as if to shoot enemies
was my youthful fantasy
Today we’re getting shots to not get shot-
by an invisible corona virus, whose variants
wound & kill us.