August 30, 2015

Conor Bracken


of some new life I’ll stand
in front of a slim closet
finger-on-chin and murmuring.

Blonde gun. Brunette.
My redheaded gun. Curly-haired
or straight. What gun

will I wear today? In this new life
a gun as a kind of
wig, a sleek toupee.

My bald hunger gun-covered
for hunting. My bald terror
thatched over with steel.

My entire skimpy certainty shingled
weatherproof and thick.
O gun be my impervious roof.

Please ceiling all the upwardness
of fear and hazard down. O gun
be of my hefty new life,

even though as always the yolky morning
drifts into distinction,
the shadows limber up,

and I am the kind of question
prodding at the day
and its illimitable dilemmas

that fire is better at asking.
Be in my new horror-stricken life
even though I do not need you

to be afraid of anyone.
I do not need you to dismantle
the leaky trust we’re walled in.

Poets Respond
August 30, 2015


Conor Bracken: “Recently, two (very young) reporters for WDBJ were murdered at Smith Mountain Lake. Being a Virginian, as well as a Virginia Tech alumnus (a campus where I and many of my friends were during the 2007 shooting, and which is not far from the lake), I was shaken up. I didn’t know the victims, but I know the shock of realizing you suddenly do. My thoughts and sympathy are with the families and friends of Adam Ward and Alison Parker, this week, and for a long time after. A lot of my friends were very shaken as well (and offer the same sympathy and experiential understanding). We find ourselves so often baffled and stunned when these events, with their clockwork consistency, occur. We feel deeply for the victims of every one of them. We don’t understand why these continue despite constant calls for curbs to gun ownership and acquisition that seem reasonable in the face of so many senseless, needless (and, we hope in the future, preventable) deaths. We want change. But ‘poetry makes nothing happen’ and lives on in the valley of its making only. Whether or not I truly believe that, this poem does not mean to be a manifesto or political call to arms, but an exploration of the dread and numbness I feel each time another horrific instance of gun violence happens in the US, televised, reported on, or otherwise.”

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