Issue 10.4 – Poetry

Issue 10 - Poetry (3)

Because that summer my arms finally

grew long enough, my grandmother

showed me how to brace myself

for the shot.  With the butt end pressed

against me, I stretched my fingers

to the trigger, positioned my target

in the valley of the site. I stared down

the gun barrel at an Orange Crush can

propped on a woodpile, turned so a cluster

of innocent white flowers faced me. I meant

to fire a hole through their center.


If I could shoot, grandmother thought,

I would be safer there, in the country, alone,

while she worked in town.

If I could shoot, I thought, I might be

tough enough to survive, my life, alone.

She leaned her loaded rifle

in the corner of her guest bedroom,

warned me not to shoot my foot.


Always in the background

is how my father no longer wanted to be a father,

no longer wanted to keep a home or regular job.

Always in the background

is how my father drifted because of the war.

Always in the background

is my fear that no one would protect me.

My grandmother wanted to give me what she knew

at eleven, in place of what I knew.


Children should know

how to be hot and dusty, she said as we drove,

windows down, sun burning our arms, wind blowing

dirt in our hair.  I didn’t know. Mostly, I played

in the cold mud by the creek, dug up rocks,

leaned together houses of branches and clay.


That summer morning

I took the gun, fired it empty into the dirt,

picked up shells and hid them before lunch.

Afraid enough to be in the country. Afraid enough

of what my grandmother couldn’t replace.

alexispetrihs2017-1-of-1-1.jpgAlexis Petri recently returned to writing poetry and has a master’s degree in English. For the past 20 years, she has been kicking down the doors of academia to better serve post-traditional students. She has helped preschool teachers earn degrees in early childhood, military veterans earn degrees in STEM fields, as well as tailoring supports for college students with learning disabilities. Alexis lives in Kansas City, Missouri, and in her spare time she enjoys taking pictures, exploring abandoned places, volunteering, and fixing up her old house. Her online portfolio is available at and her online photography galleries are available at  Connect with her on Twitter: @AlexisPetri1

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