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Joseph Hutchison



         . . . as though all life were death.
           — Ferdowsi


      “If all you have is a hammer, everything
      looks like a nail.” Say it: Implements speak.
      Thus guns whisper to ruptured psyches: Touch
      me all over. Feel how I quiver with the fire
      damped in us both. Hold me, breathes the gun.
      Trigger our one desire—and I will raise you up.


      A street punk fucked my friend’s son up
      for his wallet and a thrill. Pop-pop. Everything
      bled out: past, future, Furies, gods. The gun
      barked, and the stars forgot how to speak,
      and silence poured down on my friend like fire
      as he reached out for what he could not touch.


      Have bloody entertainments murdered touch?
      Facebook bullying? Torture by proxy? Look up:
      the sky that seems so empty is, in fact, on fire
      with being. We imagine emptiness in everything
      to break the shackles of desire, the longing to speak,
      to be. Emptiness absolves as it thunders from the gun.


      Mailman, mailman, where’s my gun? My gun,
      my flex-tip ammo, my 30-round mags. (A touch
      of manic cunning’s trained him not to speak
      such litanies out loud.) Who can say what’s up?
      Even the scheming shooter can’t grasp everything
      he aims to do; but he’ll at last feel real when he fires.


      As a kid I watched Davy Crockett by the campfire:
      coonskin cap, possum stew, his muzzle-load long gun
      propped against a Hollywood pine. How everything
      glowed! How fondly the frontier king would touch
      Old Betsy, slowly swab her barrel, then snatch her up
      to kill some red marauder with nary a line to speak.


      They bleed in theaters, temples, schools; they speak
      no more, love and dream no more. The same fire
      kills them in cubicles, parking lots, alleys, up
      in the boardroom, down in the lobby. Only the gun
      doesn’t bleed, exists to penetrate what it won’t touch,
      what the shooter won’t touch—which is everything.


      Touch matters. Say it! Tears well up in everything.
      Touch them. Stroke skin, not steel. In the mirror, touch
      the Other’s face—a fire that will never speak from a gun.