A gun is not a hammer.
Not a tool to be left in
Collecting dust until needed
A gun won’t let you forget where you put it.
A gun is a predatory lover
Waits for your moment of weakness
Comes offering shelter
“Why don’t you come with me, baby
You never have to be afraid again.”
A gun is a constant companion
Keep it close to your skin
When you’re frightened, reach for it unconsciously
Like rosary beads,
Take comfort it is still there.
It likes to remind you that you need it
Get too nonchalant, and it will stop you on a street corner
Point out passers-by
Doesn’t she look suspicious?
Isn’t he walking just a little bit too close?
Aren’t they the wrong color for this neighborhood at night?
It makes you so good at asking questions later
The gun makes its fantasies your own.
I have heard it said that people buy guns
In the hope they’ll never have to use them,
And maybe that’s true at first.
But see the fervor,
The clinging of cold dead hands
Would you build your identity around something
That you didn’t want to use?
How many have joined the force
as treatment for itchy trigger finger?
Have gone because their steel lovers complained:
“I am sick of waiting
Of being concealed beneath your shirt
You aren’t ashamed of me, are you?
Then let’s get cleaned up,
Dress yourself in brilliant blue
Wear me proudly on your
And we’ll go looking for fun.”
In Britain, even cops don’t carry.
They keep their guns behind bars,
Releasing them takes approval from on high
And it isn’t that their cops never kill
We did not need Eric Garner to teach us the power of bare hands.
It’s a matter of temptation
Of an officer, seated in a squadcar
On a sticky summer day, bored and itching
And the gun is whispering against his leg
Hoping for some trivial offense
Like a young man walking in the street
Three minutes from the end of his existence
I know how the bumper sticker goes
That guns “don’t kill people, people do”
As though it was always the same choice
As though we could always kill quickly,
At a distance
In response to the whisper of a threat.
As though we don’t make things easy
So we’ll do them more.
Back home, you sometimes need a reason not to own one
So I’d tell people they scared me,
And they’d smile,
Assuming me a coward
Afraid of bangs and flashes, of accidental doom
I didn’t clarify that I was afraid of becoming,
That I have learned I am susceptible to those kinds of lovers
That I can scarcely buy a hammer
Without everything looking
Like a nail.
Colin Killick is a poet and disability rights activist based in Somerville, MA. He has appeared as a featured poet at the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge, MA, If You Can Feel It, You Can Speak it in Boston, GotPoetry Live in Providence, RI, and the Parlor Cafe in North Adams, MA. He is the author of the plays Villagers and Brundibar: Hear My Voice, and the librettist of the blues oratorio Me and the Devil. His other interests include cooking, Star Trek, and ranting endlessly about politics.
Hannah Brown is a Boston area-based poet and spoken word artist. She is currently in Ferguson, Missouri for the grand jury decision on the Michael Brown shooting.