Love, a Hungry Gun

Brian Michael Murphy

When we hit the playback button

for the catapult

                       and call it history class,

will it show us every heave

of its life in a single second,

                       like the wing of a half-buried hummingbird?

Why can’t we learn from vivisecting weapons

the way we learn from the frozen horse

sliced into Bible pages

of viscera

        and scanned? An NRA mouthpiece

                       came to me in a dream and said

“Guns don’t kill children, other children do.”

Except when a hundred cops arrive,

and they spill out of their cars,

Glocks grafted onto their wrist-bones,

each of them giving different orders all at once:

don’t move, hands in the air,              get on the ground,

          don’t move,      show me some ID,        you have five seconds,

show me your hands,      slowly, turn around, now,

hold your fire, did

                                    you say fire?

          get on the ground, don’t move, get on the ground,

touch the sky.

And the two brown boys holding hands

are mistaken

                  for two black men gripping pistols,

as if black love is a hungry gun,

and the boys multiply themselves

a thousand times

so that their various versions

        can follow all the directives,

        because their father told them to comply, comply.

But the cops still shoot them all, except one.

He dies,     but it is because they told him don’t move

and he followed the command


stopping his own heart, fixing his lungs into petrified wood,

        halting even the unbent light

that usually rushes into his eyes

                         like tornadoed branches of oak.

about the author