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Saturday, July 02, 2016


by Jon Wesick

Robert Dear shoots up a Planned Parenthood clinic.
A militia takes over a wildlife refuge.
The only defense against a conservative with a gun
is a liberal with a gun
so I spend weeks in rain, hail,
and desert heat learning to shoot.

Here, on this day the screams
of the wounded are far away.
Instead hands practice the choreography
of magazine changes and malfunction clearing.
I like the rented AR-15. It’s accurate,
doesn’t kick much, and it’s loose spring
goes boing when it chambers the next round.

Hot wind sucks water from my body
and even slathered in sunscreen my face burns.
Ammo belts on women’s hips distract me.
“It’s too quiet,” the teacher says.
“All I hear is pistols next door.
Let’s show them what real firearms sound like!”
With others I center my ghost ring sight
on a gray silhouette and squeeze the trigger.
Rifles’ booms alert car alarms. Dust puffs
on the berm behind paper targets.
Hot brass flies from an ejection port,
falls down my shirt, and burns.

We sling loaded rifles over shoulders only once.
“Feel something different?” the teacher asks.
“That’s the feeling of freedom!”
I don’t feel freedom.
I feel a rifle
and a heavy responsibility

Host of the Gelato Poetry Series, author of the poetry collection Words of Power, Dances of Freedom, and an editor of the San Diego Poetry Annual, Jon Wesick has published over three hundred poems in journals such as the Atlanta Review, Pearl, and Slipstream. He has also published nearly a hundred short stories. One was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. One of his poems won second place in the 2007 African American Writers and Artists contest. Another had a link on the Car Talk website. Jon has a Ph.D. in physics and is a longtime student of Buddhism and the martial arts.