Jack Geist

                                                    Daniel Gohman

                                                   Daniel Gohman

Guns don’t Kill people 


A pistol goes to the man store to buy a man
says he needs a quiet one, one that can travel
anywhere. The revolver behind the counter
puts a man on the table, says “This one can  
support a family of four; comes with a house,  

a car and a dog. He’s a lawyer.” The pistol says  
he’d rather see a fanatic. “Give me someone  
who treats baseball like a religion. Someone  
who drinks coffee late, an insomniac in debt  
so massive they already think they are dead.  
Do you have anything like that?” They look
each other down their sights  
The revolver leads him to the back room
nodding his barrel towards the door. 

After the Shooting 


It’s at the neighborhood coffee shop where I spot 

the enemy. 


An enemy hands me a coffee, a smile, some change then
closes the register. An enemy gives me a ticket for not feeding
the meter, shakes his head as he sees me run. An enemy drives
the city bus I take to work which stops often. Sometimes, to let
an enemy wearing a red blouse push a child soldier in a stroller
across. Sometimes, to unload the various uniformed scouts
at their street corners. They run to their secret buildings
to walk away from this world. They walk out hours later, shirts
wrinkled and untucked. 
The restaurants turn their lights on, bells on doors ding and ding.  
And at home, everyone finds their friends. Friends in screens
and fire, friends in metal and thunder. Even the talking heads
feeding us terror from the birdcage.  


And an enemy standing outside looking in

at me through this lit window
reaches his hands into his pocket
paces the sidewalk back and forth— 


it looks like he can’t help but fidget 

it looks like he sees the enemy too.



You have died in your sleep,  

this is you waking up. 
But you have no eyelids here 

there are no eyes to lid.  

Closed feels open -- not yet
rendered by light. All the convenience  
stores have closed. All the streets are open.  

You can’t see it, but there is a bar here. It stays  
in business year-round though each soul 

only visits it twice. You can smell the heave
of absinthe as if it had already entered the body
lying like a coiled adder in the stomach. You taste
the smell of cigarettes from the ‘v’ of your fingers except 

you have no fingers. Your hands have yet to be  
rendered. There is no sign on the bar. 
Without sight, all signs are unheard suggestions anyway. 
But there are voices in the street. They are loud,  
weeping and laughing in endless mantras of joy.  

Following the racket, you are  
suddenly inside; the bartender asks you
what you’ll have. A woman at the bar
whose voice you barely recognize
is sobbing, “I want my child back, 
I want my child.” And you recall
her voice at the side of a fountain, 
rushing water, that pier in the distance. 
The taste of a hot dog coated in celery salt.  
You feel that same voice rattling at your shoulders.  

And the bartender is asking  
what you’ll have. You lose
the thought completely. You forget
the fountain and her voice becomes stranger. 

The glass in front of you is filled. You feel
the weight between the sharp crystal corners. 
A voice to the left of you says “Drink,” then
a collective clink and the bar drinks at once.  

And the woman you once knew is a boy now. 
The glass is empty and waiting to be
filled; the boy walks out of the bar calling
for his father. The bartender fills your glass

again. This time you hear him pour 

the liquid between your hands.  
You have already forgotten the last one. 

A voice to the left of you says “Drink,”  
darts hit the board somewhere behind, 

and another child has left the bar looking
for her mother.  

Somewhere between this drink and the last, 
all taste and smell has disappeared. The bar
seems taller. The glass is far beyond reach.  

The bartender asks, “Where are your parents?”  

And mother no longer exists; father
is some figure waiting beyond the doors  
without a face. You walk out of the bar
knowing nothing. Even language escapes. 

After a while of clumsy walking, you start
to crawl. Sometime later, you begin crying
and crying. Blind and stripped, a hand claps
your ear. Then, your mouth
opens for the first time  
letting everything  

inside out.  


Jack Geist is a poet finishing his MFA at Arizona State University. Currently, his work has been featured in local university magazines like MontageJournal and Marooned.