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ISSUE:  Autumn 1996

When I came home from the war
I gave my hunting guns to a painter
who wanted to know about those things,
wanted to sit some morning waiting for javelina
to emerge from groundfog,
a gentle man who hadn’t seen
what a 308 can do to a lung.
I let the screen door slam,
left him turning the things over and over
in the afternoon light,
hefting the Remington to his shoulder,
imagining the kick,
and on the way home I remembered
the chinaberry fight in the old barn,
raising welts on one another’s heads with slingshots,
and afterwards
going to the house of the kid we called “Snush,”
a nickname of forgotten origin,
but which sounded,
one of us said,
Like a sack of shit hitting a wall
and how, with his parents in the next room,
we just started hitting him. In the face.
And how he took it
and despite the bruises never told,
because we were the only friends he had,
and to keep us
he walked behind us
carrying all our cowardice on his back.


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