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Angus Woodward


Her hand, with its leafy silver ring,
rose quivering to her mouth, stained fingers
pinching phantom cigarette or joint. She wavered
all the way from Canal to Napoleon,
into sleep and out, into the dark haired woman here,
the bald businessman there. Her eyes
were all lid, face coarsened, dried
by something like time but harsher. She was tiny,
gripped in a silly purple blouse--half frilly,
half sexy--black jeans, cornyellow cowboy boots.

Her wasted tinny hair was once straw brown
in clips, if I trust my hopeful core. The olive woman
(crumpled books, paper umbrella) must be her friend,
the way she smiles feeling the other sway
against her. She's saved her from squalor's cruel
smells, laughing now at her sister's dreams
of late woozy sins, regretted embraces. But alone
staggering as if the car still rolled
the frail one stepped off at Napoleon
striding up the street all tough and awake.

. . .


Summer evenings, the air crackles
with gunfire and the reports
of rifles. Gunboys and gungirls
point thumbs and index fingers,
toy guns, BB guns, yelling pow,
bang. People are very friendly,
you'll find. We all get together
on gundays or during the gunfest
to clean our guns and dream
of future guns, ray guns, smart guns.
There's a gunorama in the Spring,
a chance for some gunplay, maybe
a few friendly innings
of Russian roulette. These
are dependable people, all of them
armed to the teeth, packing heat
even on the street. You'll see
some lovely guns walking around--
pearl-handled revolvers, nickel-plated
revolvers, nine-millie Glocks, pistol-grip
twelve gauges, thirty ought sixes
and a few elephant guns. All
of our guns are personalized, from
our street sweepers to our derringers,
our armpit guns, purse guns, glove
compartment guns, waistband guns
and sidearms. It's a quiet area, aside from
the occasional burst of gunfire as someone
gets peppered with birdshot. The only people
who get pumped full of lead around here
are those who don't belong, though. I think
you saw the gunfactory on your way in--
it's that gunmetal grey building.
There's a gunshop two streets over,
and the gunclub meets across the road.
The house to the right, well
he's a munitions expert. Get him
to show you the collection of
historical guns in his mohagany
gun cabinet. On the other side
you've got a gung-ho gunnery sergeant,
former tail gunner, who's gunning
for promotion to gun warmer.
(I asked him point blank if he
wasn't jumping the gun a little). If
you come to the gun and knife show
next week, you'll meet the others--
we've got snipers, retired sharpshooters,
marksmen, gunmakers, gunmen, gun
polishers, gun women. As I said,
I'm three doors down. If you
should ever have the need for a caulking
gun or a glue gun, just drop on by.
Bring a gunny sack. The door is always
open--just be sure to knock first,
very lightly--rat-a-tat-tat.

. . .


Man, look at that guy, fingers
moving across the neck like a spider
is how he put it. What's his name? Snake?
my friend Sloane asked, but
I think it was Ramo or something.
Sloane had the right idea-- a dramatic name
short, slinky.

I. How to slam the chord that began
Highway to Hell.

II. Hammering little spooky runs
through Stairway to Heaven.

III. Bent Hendrixian licks.

Hey, that could be the start of some
New Wave song, he said, of a piece
by Bach, syncopating. Ah, the way
"New Wave" fell off the teeth back when
it was something I'd heard of but didn't get.
I could roughly make a guitar sound mean
but music was barely navigable once
he'd taught me all he had. Still I got

1. Noises to bother cultured faculty
brats I should've been just like, and

2. License to overuse words like:
A. Man
B. Hey
C. Yeah
D. Cheapo

Copyright 1998 by Angus Woodward

Contributor's Note