December 31, 2008


in grade nine my grandfather gives me the .22,
tells me to practice my aim—
the gun, its giving, a sentence
with perfect grammar:

the range—syntax, my life as man

the target—dependent object, success as a man

the bullets—the verb, the act, actions, the motion of raising
my voice just so, an entrance/exit pattern
(the damage done—mere semantics)

the gun—the noun, the enunciation, that shadow slung over, well hung,
an inheritance (tempting heresy)

the miss—the ungrammaticality, failure, fallow, the unmettled
forge, the blank, a single feeble flag
sprung from the barrel, a bleating guffaw
a sob, stop, the sentence un—

i broke the gun, literally, a small part near the loading mechanism (i
refuse to look up the proper terminology) snapped when i threw it down,
shocked when i swear i saw blood on the barrel

that and a belt-buckle with a horse rearing, this
taken cumulatively, equals lineage

several listeners have approached me after readings
proclaiming that I hate my parents, citing
my narrative choice to kill off the father in several instances

that passing down, passing on, passing
through my veins the impulse
like an addiction at birth

i did practice with my .22, set up clay targets and took careful aim
the gun hard against my shoulder like a hand and i hit
quite often, i was pretty good, spent afternoons making
clay spray into dust, and then one afternoon, clouds brewing,
a chickadee that had landed on one of the clay targets
sprayed into dust—aim raised just so,
a sob, stop, uncock


Jeremy Stewart said...


I used to kill birds in my boyhood,
Bluebirds and robins and wrens;
I hunted them up in the mountains,
I hunted them down in the glens;

I never thought it was sinful,
I did it only for fun
And I had rare sport in the forest
With the poor little birds and my gun.

But one clear day in the spring-time
I spied a brown bird in a tree,
Merrily a winging and singing,
As happy as birds can be

And, raising my gun in a twinkling,
I fired - my aim was too true,
For a moment the little thing fluttered
Then off to the bushes it flew.

I followed it ,quickly and softly
And there to my sorrow I found
Right close to its nest full of young ones
The mother bird dead on the ground.

Poor birdies, for food they were calling,
But now they could never be fed,
For the kind mother bird who had loved them
Was lying there bleeding and dead.

I picked up the bird in my anguish,
I stroked the wee motherly thing
Who could never more feed its dear young ones,
Nor dart through the air on swift wing.

I made a firm vow in that moment
When my heart with such sorrow was stirred
That never again in my lifetime
Would I shoot a poor innocent bird


(I loved this poem when I was little, but I also hated it, because it made me cry. My grandfather would recite it in a solemn, elegaic tone. Oh, btw: Isfeld's grandson Mark died in 1994 clearing landmines).

Naima Goldwin said...

Your poem depicts of juvenile violence as far as my understanding is concern.

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Rob Budde said...

Thanks Naima!!