Playing Guns

Beau Barton

Playing GunsBeau Barton
00:00 / 01:19

We played guns in the backyard,

taking cover in the suburban rubble

of rusted water heaters, broken

bicycles, and empty cattle trailers.

 

Our orange-tipped barrels targeting

each other with naive fingers pulling

crescent moon triggers until caps

snapped, the smell of burnt matches.

 

And then the screams of who won:

who was alive and who was dead?

Time pushed its palms against us,

dividing friends as it likes to do.

 

He would play guns in Afghanistan,

clearing houses in the heat and dust

until one tripwire would turn the air

into fire, the wind into razor blades.

 

And when he finally came home

under the nation’s striped sheet,

I wouldn’t attend his funeral

or stand within the silent masses.

 

I would drive the desert highway,

thinking about the crack of caps:

who was alive and who was dead?

My guilt fueling me like gasoline.

2020, poetry, editor's choice