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Wednesday, January 25, 2023


by William Aarnes

poetry makes nothing happen 
          —W.H. Auden 
poetry is never really part of anything 
          —John Koethe 
It can kill a man. 
          —Wallace Stevens 
                         It is difficult
to get the news from poems
          yet men die miserably every day
                                            for lack
of what is found there. 
          —William Carlos Williams 

Of course, there are other ways 
to kill—a knee pressed down 
on a neck; a quick, hard shove 
off a subway platform; a swerve 
onto a sidewalk; a brick 
dropped from a roof; the slow, 
sure work of something tasteless 
stirred into a sauce; a knife  
stuck through a partner’s heart... 
—but guns are so easy to have  
on hand they’ve help us fall  
into the habit of reaching for them 
to win lost arguments  
or end marriages or conclude 
our own lives by aimless firing 
into crowds.  Having guns around, 
has moved us to elect whoever  
will pass and keep in force  
permissive laws meant to insure  
we’ll need guns to defend each other  
from gunfire.   
                       So can someone  
please post the poem everyone 
(even readers who prefer 
firing guns to reading)  
will want to share with friends  
because the poem’s so compelling  
about how we need justices 
who think laws must meet 
standards suggested by the phrase  
“well regulated militia” 
and (in a brilliant burst  
of well-targeted words)    
about how it’s criminal  
not to make crimes committed  
with guns the responsibility  
of not only the culprits but also  
the weapons’ makers and dealers? 
Please, someone, that poem.  
Stop me from buying a gun. 

William Aarnes lives in New York.