The Morning After the Most Recent Shooting I Saw

a guy on campus with a tank top that read

Keep Calm and Carry One beneath an image

of a Berretta. The news came in last night

like a slow-rolling storm: fifty dead, the shooter

surrounded by his arsenal, mowing the concert

down from a hotel window. I can picture 

the gleam of late afternoon light off 

the 43-story hotel like some silver bar

stuck in the sand. Like a bullet casing blown

against the horizon. I am not comforted

by the morning after the night. I turn off 

the TV and close the blinds. After selling 

my 30-06 to pay for a new computer, 

I give my father the old scope, the bust 

of a whitetail on the center of its knob, 

the brushed metal like a stone I held in my hands. 

I look through it at the kitchen table

as if standing on the bow of a boat

looking at a coastline coming into view.

Instead I see the blur of my father in front 

of me. He jokingly tells me he’s going to 

put the scope on his assault rifle. I don’t laugh. 

Weeks before, he had asked me to go 

to the Steel City shooting range with him. It’s fun

he said. We could line some things up, we could fill

some things full of holes. How could I talk

to him about loss? My father the gun, 

my father the gunpowder that only took

one spark to set off, my father the lead—

but I know I can’t. I don’t get what I want.

My father tightens the scope rings

with the Leatherman he keeps on his belt,

looks down the scope to me sitting

at the kitchen table, where 

from this distance, I’m upside down.



William Fargason is the author of Love Song to the Demon-Possessed Pigs of Gadara (University of Iowa Press, April 2020), and the winner of the Iowa Poetry Award. His poetry has appeared in The Threepenny Review, New England Review, Barrow Street, Prairie Schooner, Rattle, The Cincinnati Review, Narrative, and elsewhere. He earned an MFA in poetry from the University of Maryland and a PhD in poetry from Florida State University. He lives with himself in Tallahassee, Florida, where he serves as the poetry editor at Split Lip Magazine.