The New Math

Every third Saturday

at the floodplain ball field,

deputies opened the gates,

trucks lined up,

raising dust or pushing mud,

tailgates dropped

to support big men

in tan overalls, faded

Reds ball caps that hid their

haggling eyes.

Between displays of rifles

and shotguns, pistols,

the occasional grenade,

Grandpa told us things

like trickle down

is some damned liar’s math

as he inspected bullets

arranged like the rainbow

of taffies he bought us

at the drugstore.

I twisted the pink

raspberry wrappers

one end at a time,

watched the older boys

still blind and bruised

from Friday night

stroke barrels and finger

triggers, knife blades, testing

the pressure, asking about the kick

like they didn’t know

the words for how they felt

or if they should feel it. I knew.

Even then, when Grandpa said

It’s a fool who shoots in public

as a random dad sliced the fog

with a break action crack

against the hillside limestone

atop which I’d meet

those boys in the woods

to practice bracing ourselves.

Copyright © 1999 – 2024 Juked