“James’s Gun,” a Poem by Ian Powell-Palm

In the week after my sister died

Following a day spent needlessly driving and throwing candy

From the window onto passing graves lining the highway

My brother James took me to a taco bell and watched heavily

As my fourteen-year-old mouth cradled a steak tortilla.

When the employee with a goatee and sweat on his breath

Who had spent the past hour telling sexist jokes and expecting for

Our laughter, which didn’t come, followed us back to James’s car,

A box cutter in his hand, James silently opened the trunk and displayed the rifle

Lying in plain view. I watched as he ran his finger

Over its silver outline, like he was stroking a mare’s back,

Before mounting it. The man with the boxcutter

Blinked once, before walking back inside.

It wasn’t a rifle, maybe a baseball bat, I can’t remember right

All I knew was that James then wrapped his arm around my shoulders

And looked at me as if this were my inheritance. As if that gun

Could have brought his wife back. Could have raised my sister

From back out the ground if only it was properly fed.

Ian Powell-Palm is a writer, poet, and musician currently living in Belgrade, Montana. His work attempts to interrogate familial trauma, sexual identity, and the resurrection of the dead. You can read more of his poetry on Facebook at “Powell-Palm Poetry”.

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