Gun and Blue
Gun is painting his bedroom walls.
Blue is the color but not quite.
The paintcan label reads cornflower
and though Gun has never seen
an actual bloom, he believes in the word.
Gun is working hard to trust what he hears and sees,
speak and spell. He wants to feel good
about coining of phrase, knowing the known.
Gun and us fellas, us boys, we are all knowers,
are big talkers too,
always lecturing. We tend to shun conversation.
A one-way street, shut your hole and listen.
After a violent rainstorm, Gun gathers broken
branches in his weedy back yard. With a dull saw
he trims cracked tree limbs, leaves the big stumps
by the curb. To him they look like cigar butts.
When a truck with an enormous jointed arm
takes it all away Gun feels sad,
lies down on his stained mattress,
his body far from all other bodies.
Gun whispers a word: loneliness.
We are wise to it.
Like we always say:
in words we trust.
Gun sleeps. He dreams. In them, no one speaks.
Restless, he shifts, makes gentle waves
of the sheets, but he does not wake
for he is floating in the blue,
and there are no decent words
to describe the vivid hue of the ocean.
Gun Has Power of Mind
Gun thought of a hockey game—
the ice rink melted and
became a tsunami.
Gun thought of a septic system—
it softened into a giant snake that burst from the earth
all the neighborhood animals,
cats, dogs, hamsters, two
Gun thought of going to medical school—
it choked his throat, having to learn the names of all those bones
Gun thought of UPS trucks—
they all drove ramshackle into the ocean,
a million cardboard packages bobbing on salty waves.
Gun thought of money—
his eyes melted and his fingers were
crumpled newspaper pages.
Gun thought about the rainclouds in the sky—
they turned to rock and fell to earth,
smashing everything to smithereens.
Gun thought of global warming—
fat men in suits laughed themselves purple, slurping scotch
and blood on the rocks.
Gun worried about the polar ice caps—
a long icicle swelled out of his ear,
Gun saw all these teens running from the high school.
He waved Hi but they didn’t seem to appreciate
the kind gesture.
Gun pondered his naked form in the mirror,
he curled up fetal on his creaky bed
Gun Goes to See a Shrink
They sit, inert.
They don’t say anything.
Gun, it is apparent, is
The shrink says,
Well, let’s start by you
about your day.
I got up
used the john
a walk, went off
a couple of times,
then ended up
back in the closet
in the old tin box
high on the shelf
with the Penthouses
and the paperdry
baggie of dope,
like I’m some kind
And how did you feel
along the way
but so what?
It’s not my fault.
What makes you
Say what? All of it?
The last part.
Because I didn’t do it.
Haven’t you heard?
Gun don’t kill
He makes a cage
of his fingers,
tip to tip.
He is thinking real deep.
The moment hangs there
in the empty space
might actually happen.
The shrink sucks in a deep breath.
Well, I’m sorry to say our time
Just what I was thinking, Gun says.
Michael Henry is co-founder and Executive Director of Lighthouse Writers Workshop, the largest independent literary arts center in the Rocky Mountain west. He is the author of three books of poetry and has received fellowships from the Colorado Council on the Arts and PlatteForum, and a Livingston Fellowship from the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation.