13 June 2013


It was in the Northern Catskill
Mountain wilds off the beaten path 
that I held one once, a rifle,
long, sleek, solid, weighty and hand
made of fine-grained wood and cool iron.

We had gathered for this purpose—
to become familiar with what
we hated—a group of women
who cared to explore more than one
side, so we knew our enemy.

I loved the words of it and liked
how it fit my arms—butt and stock
and trigger, forestock, barrel, bolt,
chamber, magazine, and safety.
Mustn’t forget safety.  I fired.

I cannot forget the recoil—
kickback for the projectile I
had inflicted on the target,
a target with open circles
and bulls eye ready to receive

I dreamed of guns after that day
how I could thrust myself between
their threat and target, pointed at
unmercifully “lock, stock, and
barrel” an idiom for “all”

I saw myself more often as
target, waiting, a dot of red
on my forehead just below the
apple, and, to my horror, most
often as the one with the gun.

If I went to such a workshop
today, I would want to hold
them all:  assault rifles, battle
rifles, carbine, sniper, auto-
matic, repeating, revolving

Anything that could be bought and
carried into a school or play
ground: handguns, bee bee guns, sling shots,
knives, pens, scissors, hate and more hate ...
How do we hold it, the weight of hate?

Thinking out loud, connecting the dots.

Read at The Green-Line Cafe "Gun-Kulture" event in Philadelphia, then posted at Poets United Poetry Pantry #155.

Submitted for Rattle  7/10/2013
Copyright © 2013 S.L.Chast

Rewritten: Learning about Guns 3-24-2018