Love, According to Larry Stahl by Will Malkus

“Treat each one as if it’s fully functional and loaded,”

he says.

And that’s my biggest problem

because I know what an empty chamber feels like.

It’s metal-cold and there’s too much room,

but on the other hand, you can’t hurt anyone

and I’m grateful for that.

 

“Never point it at anyone that you’re not prepared to shoot,”

he insists.

“Common sense,” the whole room thinks.

And, you know, I haven’t.

Except maybe once.

She said she never wanted to see me again

which worked out, I suppose, in the end.

 

“This is the shell,”

he says, and he points to my chest.

“Inside is the bullet.

That’s the part that can kill.”

So now I know what it means

When I can feel the piece of lead in my chest pound

Making it hard to breathe.

 

“When you pull the trigger

the hammer strikes the cap, and it explodes,”

he looks at her when he says it.

Maybe he knows what her smile does to me.

The way he describes being shot, it sounds like most mornings,

because when you open your eyes, I get tunnel vision

and I’d swear I can feel them looking right through me.

 

Did you know,

That when you finally let me see your face,

I feel holy?

 

“If they see you with it and stop you;

One: Do nothing quickly.

And two: Do nothing, quickly.”

But, sir, I don’t mean to be disrespectful,

I’m just so fucking sick of freezing when I see her.

So I’m going to spin it around my finger

Give her a John Wayne smile

And tell her to draw, pilgrim.

 

See, the thing is, sir,

I know I’m being unsafe

and your advice is great, don’t get me wrong,

but the thing is,

and I don’t know about you,

but when I find myself staring down the barrel

I get a split second to weigh my options,

pros and cons,

gain versus loss,

and, well, it may not be safe,

but we wouldn’t play with guns

if they didn’t make us feel so damn alive,

would we?

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1 Comment

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One response to “Love, According to Larry Stahl by Will Malkus

  1. kgavin2

    Colophon Meeting:
    Particularly liked the conclusion: “but we wouldn’t play with guns…”

    Knowing the context and background helps to understand the poem as a whole. Can this resonate to someone who wouldn’t necessarily know this information?

    A little prose-y at times. A little too teenage confessional at times.

    Liked the organization of the quotes as a structure-builder, but worry that it makes it difficult to develop a unique, solitary image. The gun image has been done before.

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