at the sound of the gunshot

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At the Sound of the Gunshot, Leave a Message
Mary Karr
That’s what my friend spoke
into his grim machine the winter he first went mad
as we both did in our thirties with still
no hope of revenue, gravely inking
our poems on pages held fast by gyres
the color of lead.

Godless, our minds
did monster us, left us bobbing as in a swamp
until we sank. His eyes were burn holes
in a swollen face. His breath was a venom
he drank deep of. He called his own tongue
a scar, this poet

who can crowbar open
the most sealed heart, make ash flower,
and the cocked shotgun’s double-zero mouths
(whose pellets had exploded star holes into plaster and porcelain
and not a few locked doors) never touched
my friend’s throat. Praise

Him, whose earth is green.

Photo by Max Kleinen on Unsplash