Coyote Mercury

words, birds and whatever else by James Brush

Chekhov’s Gun

if there’s a gun
it must be fired

that’s the rule
and so now this poem
has a gun hanging there
and it must go off

it’s not much of a rifle
just a .22, at least
a hundred years old
with stock worn smooth
nothing to race
a hunter or collector’s

still, there are cacti
and roadsigns
on the highway
we could shoot

and deer
standing dumbly
on the road waiting
for wolves that
never show

but I’d really rather not
shoot any of these
though I like firing guns
I mean who doesn’t, right?

and so perhaps we’ll
leave it hanging there
for now
as if above the door
of a hill country cabin
across from the mounted
deer head wearing
a rakishly cocked gimme cap

and I’ll wake at night
and check occasionally
to see that it hasn’t moved
because someday, of course,
it has to be fired if not in this poem
certainly in another


  1. Admit it — there’s nothing like emptying a few beer cans, setting them up on a stump in the yard and trying to hit them.

    Good poem.

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