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.