Journal of Writing & Environment

My landlord built a firing range

behind our row of single-wides,

targets propped on wooden frames,

50 paces, 100 paces, and beyond that,

a bullet-hole atop the horizon.

In the line of fire, not so much as a sprig of ivy sprung from the leaves,

the undergrowth razor-burned by stray .22’s,

the horticulturist’s version of lobotomy.


Once, months ago, an owl stalked the water oak that shadows my porch;

I could tell, by the pitch of its croon, the frequency of its hoots,

when a possum was coming to rummage the trash.

Long story short, my landlord bagged both

possum and owl in a single, impossible trick shot.

Otherwise, I could find no logic in the pitch or pace of his blasts.


Throughout the day, sporadically,

the crisp reports of shedding chambers

pierced the swarming summer silence,

breaking my concentration as I suffered through Death on the Installment Plan.


I walked around the range one day when I knew he wouldn’t be around

and saw the targets withered more by weather

than the gunman’s dead-eye.

It seems the greater challenge would be to try

and blast away the edges, shot by shot,

with the persistence of a rat gnawing away at a novel,

work one’s way inward until nothing remains

but the bull’s-eye, which would blink once for yes,

twice for no, to indicate whether it’s impressed.