Your sister can’t stop hurting when she sees children
laughing. They coil in her dreams, knees raised
to their stomachs, feet stamping their rhythms.
She’s reminded of high school, how she pulled up
her dress in loneliness and a man laughed at her.
But never mind that. Her husband has his gun
collection out. He can’t stop pointing and clicking
the trigger at the open window. But the birds
won’t die. They flutter away, startled by the pitch
of his voice. They land on the fence
of the city swimming pool. There the children run
off the diving board, ducking invisible bullets.
—from Rattle #25, Summer 2006
Ash Bowen: “A little over a year ago, I was all set to enter medical school when I found Jack Heflin’s poem, ‘Cat Scan,’ on the internet. After I read it, I sat down at the computer and made my first serious attempt at a poem. After that day, going to med school just seemed like a waste of time.” (website)