Rifle

On a late summer day
that should have been 
a hammock day, a cookout day,
I went to war.

In the privacy of my home
I raised an ancient rifle,
long unfired, to my damp
and blurring eye.

I did not dry fire it. That much
I recalled from long ago; I set it down
and stared at the manual,
began to calm myself

by cleaning it as prescribed:
barrel, chamber, magazine,
bolt, carrier, spring. A peace
beyond understanding took hold

as I reassembled it and
once again sighted down its length,
all the time reminding myself
that this was last resort, ultimate

surrender to reality; I know
for years I would have thought it
more fantasy than practical plan
but practicality has failed, planning

has failed for too many of us now;
when I was done I sat and stared
at the news for a while with the rifle
in my lap, the ammo still boxed

on the coffee table, the empty clip
beside the box, waiting to be filled.
I held onto comfort, telling myself
at least I had no need or urge

to raise the shades and load and fire
randomly into the neighborhood,
hoping to strike an enemy 
without seeing them fall —

it seems right now they are 
everywhere and friend and foe
are too often the same in face
and word. Then I said: this is insane.

I put the rifle away while trembling
like leaves on the poplar trees upon which
I hang my hammock in which I
am lying now, reckoning with how

the newly cleaned and now loaded
weapon I’ve long claimed to abhor
no longer languishes in a chest
in the spare room, but instead

is stashed and waiting
on an obscured
but easy to reach rack
inside the closet in the hall.

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About Tony Brown

A poet with a history in slam, lots of publications; my personal poetry and a little bit of daily life and opinions. Read the page called "About..." for the details. View all posts by Tony Brown

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