This poem is reprinted from Damfino Press Journal, January 2016.
Outside the house the suitors line up,
a long queue of them, starting at dawn.
Each one with a gun.
I can see them from my bedroom window
—their handguns in holsters,
Or rifles slung over their shoulders
Like lawmen in my father’s tv westerns.
In town, the fire chief shot
His brains out with his service weapon.
It happened in his official car behind
The fire station on the main street.
I lost a friend over the guns her son
Brought back from the army, along with a crumpled
Marital history, and a taste for thebaine.
Once a black Luger was interposed
Between me and the hand that held it.
It was pointed at my father’s head, and then at me. The
Hand swept the gaze of the gun across the room.
The women have armed themselves, too.
Paper targets, then miscreants, then
intruders at the city gates
Overflowing into exurbia, the neighbors’ dogs–
Those go first, felled by your bullets. When there’s
No one left to shoot, your gun
Might be turned on you.
I know if I got my hands on one I’d drop
This embroidery, sneak out the back door,
go looking for a blacksmith.
I’d apprentice myself, I’d want
Nothing more than to hold the black gun
over the fire, pummel it.
You’d thank me for this.
Huge thanks to Danielle Georges, poet laureate of Boston, and the August 2015 poetry workshop participants, especially Martin Rodriguez, Francine Montemurro, Ellen Zelner and Chad Parenteau for critiquing an earlier version of this poem. ~LV