There was no target, at least not at first.
Push them hard into the clip, and when it’s full,
you can fit one extra,
but it’s got to be in the chamber.
Over and over
I shot into a bank of red clay a hundred yards down a strip
of bush-hogged pasture. My father paced behind me
with a sock full of sand,
said Here, set it on this.
I smiled at the puffs of dust that rose and dissipated.
Eventually, there were targets: paper plates at first,
X’s he’d drawn
in permanent marker, then empty soda cans he filled
with water, hung with fishing line from branches. Once hit,
water sprayed out, the cans blossoming into metal flowers.
What I thought was, wasn’t. I really held the gun in my hand,
shifted it to the other: the swirled grain
of the oak stock, the sling’s cracked leather,
my reflection a warped
blue shadow on the steel barrel.
Then came phone books. They didn’t move when shot.
Opened up, the holes on the cover no bigger
than cigarette burns
but sliced through the pages in waves,
ripped up whole neighborhoods of last names,
half of the alphabet busted into yellow confetti:
Goodbye Baker, Bennett, Berkman, Brighton.
Inside, real bullets mushroomed no larger than olives.
Goodbye Derricks. Goodbye, goodbye.