The Very Last Time I Shot a Gun
I don’t recall whose idea it was the two of us
swishing through knee-high clover while
grasshoppers launched in frenzied flight as if they
knew our purpose before we did.
The gun lead-heavy in my hands and BBs rattling
in my Skittle box and his short legs churning
behind me while I watch for poison oak and gopher
holes and the silken weave of milk snakes big
We reach the water’s edge misty-still where our
quarry basks in memories of a lust-filled
night drunk on the endless possibilities
of a pond beneath the stars.
They slip into mud between the reeds but
we wait for their unblinking eyes to
surface then shoot and shoot and shoot until
all bubbles stop rising and the first belly
floats up a creamy pillow of unexpired air.
Later with windows open we listen to mayflies
bounce against the screen and the belly-growl of
far-off thunder and father popping the top off
yet another Bud my while brother whispers
I can’t hear them and he’s right
the baritone call for love is gone and that
aching note of silence is
Stephen Wallenfels launched his writing career with a short story about a lucky chicken’s foot in National Racquetball Magazine in 1985. That developed into ten years of publishing over 100 feature articles, columns and humorous essays for fitness trade journals. During that time he continued to develop his fiction skills and published several short stories for kids and adults. In 2012 he published his debut novel, POD, with Ace, the SciFi imprint of Penguin USA. While writing fiction receives the bulk of his attention, Stephen’s first love of the written word was, (and still is) poetry. He looks forward to courting that relationship again. He lives in Richland.