25 March 2018

Learning about Guns

ISSF 25 meter Rapid Fire Pistol target.svg

Decades ago, a group of women gathered 
to learn about guns.  We took turns 
holding a rifle—long, sleek, solid, weighty—
hand-made of fine-grained wood and cool iron.

I liked how it fit my arms and how its words 
fit my mouth—butt, stock and trigger, barrel, 
bolt, chamber, magazine, and safety.
We talked a lot about safety . . . .

I fired, and braced against the recoil—
then walked to the target, surprised to see
I’d missed the bulls eye and its circles,
bale of hay and everything alive.

I dreamed of guns after that day—
I heard their sounds—at first one bullet
at a time, and then rounds and rounds—
and I stood between them and the prey.

Shooters aimed guns at me, and bullets flew 
toward my body.  I couldn't dodge them. 
I felt the impact.  And then I saw myself
as the shooter—aiming lock, stock and barrel.

Reading the news today, I remembered both
the nightmares and attraction.  I pictured a shooter 
in my own classroom. I heard the sounds.
Now, my heart marches with the survivors.

I pray for the living victims. And for the shooters.
How did it feel to them to use the assault and 
battle rifles, carbines, snipers, and the automatic,
repeating and revolving guns, guns, guns— ?

My heart marches with the survivors.  In a land
where guns are as available and attractive
as lollypops, how do we keep weapons, anger
and despair apart?  How hold the weight of hate?  

(Revision of Rifle 6-13-2013)

My blog poems are rough drafts. 
Please respect my copyright. 

© 2018 Susan L. Chast


Peter Chast said...

Well put.

Mary said...

Your poem is a stark reminder of the gun culture in our society, the allure of the shooting, the power one feels when one holds a gun. Your poem was very visceral. The sound of one bullet, then the sound of rounds and rounds. How must it have been to be on the receiving end of such a barrage. Indeed it seems guns are as attractive as lollypops for some. Your ending was powerful -- "How hold the weight of hate?" Our world seems to be filled with too many guns and too much hate right now. My heart marches with the survivors too.

Donna said...

Susan the weight of this issue/problem/angst really weighs on me and your poem pulled me with that weight....how do we indeed? It is all about love, and trying to just be a better person as the anger is what is fueling this....happy people reach for lollipops...angry ones reach for guns. Your poem is fabulous, truthful and heavy on my heart.


Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

I remember a friend – a non-violent, pacifist young man – telling me that he once held a gun and discovered it was seductive, the sudden wish to pul the trigger, the feeling of power....

Rob Jackson said...

You handled this subject very well with this poem. There are so many sides to the argument, but in the end the lives are what matters.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Wow. An unexpected meditation. I love the marching with the survivors. I hope these kids lead us into a brand new day, guess they got tired of waiting......

Sanaa Rizvi said...

This is such an inspiring poem, Susan! This gun culture must come to an end. I too feel the energy and long to march along with those brave teenagers! #marchforourlives 💜

brudberg said...

I fully understand the attraction of guns... the sense of power to hold one is overwhelming... that lure is exactly why we need gun control...

annell said...

A clear write about a plague that is ours.

totomai said...

Very timely, Susan. I think I only fired a gun once. I was excited but at the same time cautious and it was in a firing range. I hope, having a gun would have lots of requirements so as not to be abused.

R.K. Garon said...

I agree, with sadness. "(

ayala said...

I appreciate the reflection in your poem. Yesterday I marched in Parkland. It was a memorable day.

Vivian Zems said...

My heart marches with the survivors......i love this line, as mine does too. A timely write.

Thotpurge said...

This is fascinating considering here most of us go through life never having actually seen or held a gun... or feeling the need to do so. We watch from a distance and wonder how this will end.

Old Egg said...

It is so sad to see the United States possibly the richest and most influential nation on Earth still allowing its citizens to have a pacifier (in bearing arms) just like a baby when it really should not be needed. I am sure most of the civilized world looks on with amazement that your people are regularly in danger of harm at rallies, sporting events and even schools as well as their homes and in the street. When will America grow up and stop playing with their dangerous toys?

rallentanda said...

The lure of the gun...is the primal urge particularly for males to destroy.I just asked someone here who was in the army. He said the ones who were like this got to be officers quicker than others , because the army have a high regard for those pyschopathic tendencies (as long as they slaughter the enemy and not their own)

Brendan MacOdrum said...

This poem is long learning, the way revisiting and revising over time one's thought teaches us. The language of guns begins as independence, security, even authority, at least in those authoritative kicks from pulling off a shot. Then turning around to face the rounds in wild shoes ... and then the military hyperbole and hyperventilation of "battle rifles, carbines, snipers ..." the language that comes from afar and afield, where the dirty wars are fought and then carried back home in knapsacks brimming with war porn. A long march, then, ending (or at least, for this revision) in step with "the survivors." How do we carry the "weight of hate," and must we? Fine compaction here and deep relevance, well done.

Robert Bourne said...

Your words contained some powerful messages... that should make us all think

Neeraj Khanka said...

Indeed, a gun in hand can be tempting. But, the control need to be there.
As words once spoken can't be taken back, the lives lost can not be brought back.

Magaly Guerrero said...

The attraction and the excitement come at too high of a price. I don't understand why this is even something we need to talk about, I really don't. Children are dying, they are killing each other, we can stop it... We should do whatever it takes.

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

So far, no one has come up with an answer to the questions posed at the end of this poem.