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Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Firearm

An imitation of "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" by Wallace Stevens

Hannah Lindsay Shepherd


Among twenty high school classrooms,

The only moving thing

Was the trigger of the firearm.


I was of three minds

Like a safe

In which there are three firearms.


The firearm kicked in the autumn woods.

It was a small part of the pantomime.


A man and a woman

Are one.

A man and a woman and a firearm

Are one.


I do not know which to fear,

The weight of the firearm

Or the size of the bullet,

The boom of the shot

Or just after.


Shells filled the long window

With defensive glass

The shadow of the firearm

Crossed it, to and fro.

The mood

Traced in the shadow

An indecipherable cause.


Oh thin men of the city, 

Why do you imagine collection?

Do you not see how the firearms

Lay at the feet 

Of the people you love?


I know ammunition

And aim and concentration;

But I know, too,

That the firearm is involved

In what I know. 


When the firearms flew out of sight,

It marked the beginning 

Of revolution.


With the sound of firearms

Mixing in concert light

Even those packing

Would cry out sharply.


He pulled over Khalil

In a sirened car

Once, a fear pierced him,

In that he mistook 

The shadow of a hairbrush 

For a firearm.


The firearm is firing.

People must be dying.


It was evening all afternoon.

It was snowing 

And it was going to snow.

The firearm sat

By the cabin door.

poetry, 2020
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