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THIS IS A PISTOL

This is a pistol.
This is the blunt end,
And this is the naughty end -
Which is not to be pointed at anyone
But that blotched black-and-yellow trooper
Storming forward with a sub-machinegun.
This is a pistol,
A 9 mm semi-automatic Browning pistol.
You
Have seen it come apart and go together:
Now you
Strip it.

Good.

This is the magazine,
These are the bullets,
And these the commands.
And now -

The guns crack:
Concussion: smoke:
Concussion concussion concussion:
Smoke:
Concussion:
Smoke:
Gulls scream, and the echoes
Roll back from the ragged cliffs.

Walking back past the white manuka,
The young men relate
Their fathers' and their grandfathers' stories.
The child of fifteen shot face to face:
"I had a wife and family to go back to."
The paratrooper dead at dawn on Crete:
"Gott mit uns" on his belt.

Copyright © 1978, 2004 Hugh Cook

Picture of front cover of ARC OF LIGHT poetry collection by Hugh Cook.

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