by David Huddle

Myth Man appears on my front porch
when I go out to fetch the mail.
He looks like a Blue Man except
he's battleship gray. Your life is

a sham and a shambles, he says.
You need mythos, which is to men
like you what starch is to white shirts.
Meaning, he says. It'll straighten

you right out. Shuffling through my bills,
I invite him in, apologize
for the hell-hole my living room
has become, clear a place for him

on the sofa. "Here's where I sit
in the mornings while I'm writing,"
I tell him. "Poems to me are what
crack is to a junkie. I feel

goofy and virtuous after
I write one. Afterwards sometimes
I drive to Costco and buy things."
Myth Man bows his head, stays quiet.

"Also I make coffee," I say,
"to drink while I write. I do it
the same way every morning,
I grind beans, I steam milk, I heat

the cups with boiling water,
I carry coffee up for my wife
to help her wake up. Then I sit
with my computer in my lap."

Myth Man murmurs, You've confused
ritual and myth. The former
is mere habit, the latter gives
meaning to your life. Nuns and monks

have both. Ritual without myth
will damage your spirit. You've
already harmed yourself. Meaning
may be impossible for you.

Sham and shambles, he says. "Maybe
so," I admit. "Sometimes I hate
the items I buy at Costco.
I'm often grumpy with my wife.

My take on meaning," I tell him
"is that you have it or you don't.
When I was fifteen, Jesus shot me
a sad look and took a hike out

of my life. That was it for me
and meaning. Vietnam, George Bush,
corporate assholes, our murder
of the planet.... Sorry to laugh

in your face, Myth Man, but mythos
is to us in the twenty-first
century what a spear would be
to troops under fire in Iraq."

Myth Man gets grayer and grayer
the whole time I'm talking to him.
He says something I can't quite hear.
Then he's gone, and I'm here alone.

Last updated December 19, 2022