BULLET by Dennis Hinrichsen

/ / Issue 8

That day I shot a piece of paper to death,

I gave no thought to the bullets. They
                          were pebbles
             in the palm,

knuckled fingers, integers I snapped
                          in the clips,
             thumbed to the cylinder. It was

the target I wanted dead. Head

high in the distance. Tacked to a
             I had an array of guns—

a .22 caliber pistol, two .45s,
                          one Army issue
             with the slender clip,


9 shots, the other thicker

so I could stack more bullets,
                          a 9 mm handgun
             I toyed with

gangsta-style, an AR-15 rifle
                          with scope,
             an AK-47.

I loved the instantaneous

smack, the oily feel
                          of the loads,
             the paper ripping,

hillside puffing like a wounded
             I thought: I could kill


a man. And so I fired away

the afternoon. Clip after clip
                          as the sun
             tacked a few degrees

in its Copernican arc,
             clouds, imperfect

cities, peppered the ground

with rain. And then just
                          as quickly, since
             they were not my own,

the guns were cleared and packed
                          and gone.
             I was home. I had a chamber


in my head that kept clicking.

And a hammer by the bed,
                          a nightly stroll
             to secure each window

with its half-moon lock.
                          My nakedness,
             my wife’s

nakedness, easy targets

in that sky blue room. Papery

Flesh and vellum, suspended,
                          in a dream
             of paradise and threat.


And bullets, too, suspended,

pinched in a hurried trajectory,
             of the hand to fingers

to gun. One man and two boys
             A local crew, here

in the heat to pry

a neighbor’s garage door open.
             a lawn mower, road bike,

chain saw, into fading starlight.
             toward the house. But in


that moment when the man—

stop-action—is like a bullet
                          through the screen,
             the cops arrive.

The two boys scatter. The youngest
             and tearing into my garage.

Target and fragment pinned

by lasers and barking dogs,
             things to steal, his life

an unmarked gun. The idea
                          in his head
             part parabellum, prepare


for war, and part hip-hip

wounding by cop. Either way
                          the concrete’s cool
             and has wept a splattering

of notched, dummied half-worlds
                          against his bending.
             A surface tension. Out-

side: cops’ hands cold

on the pistol grips, dogs
                          straining, dew chilling
             my slippered feet. In-

side, the kid in a fulcrum moment,
                          heart stilled—
             breath poised—as if on a fingertip…