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 – 2020 Juked