07 April 2011


They gave me a rifle,
Showed me how to take it apart,
Told me a name for each piece.

It was strange at first
Like disassembling death.
What would happen
If I didn’t put him back together?

I wondered  if my rifle pieces
Had claimed any bodies
In a past, jumbled incarnation.

When they had taught me
Enough about the rifle
They put me on a bus.
They brought me to the range,
Gave me a live magazine.
A hundred of us
Like camouflaged  cattle
Smiling at our weapons,
Waiting for our next command.

I didn’t come here to kill a man,
I thought.
So why am I here?
To learn how to kill a man,
Of course.

They made me keep shooting
I placed a nice, close group of
Tiny lead missiles
Right through the man-shaped
Target’s paper heart.
They taught me how to kill a man.

They taught me how to
Adjust the rear sight,
Take aim,
Lie still,
Hold my breath,
And squeeze.

 But I don’t know how to kill a man.

I wonder
How many fighting boys
Never thought they would
Take aim,
Lie still,

And breathlessly squeeze
Three steel-tipped, lead-bodied bullets
Into the meat of a man’s chest,
In a nice, close group.

M16 Line up
Image from Mini D
Day 7 of NaPoWriMon. This will be my first entry ever for the Thursday Poet's Rally.


  1. What a powerful poem. So very sad because it is so real.

  2. This is haunting and emotive. The simplicity of the paper heart and the structure are a facade to the powerful and poignant deeper meaning of your words.

    Thanks for sharing :)

  3. eloquent..

    well done.
    thanks for coming to poets rally.

  4. Wow... I was honestly shaking while reading this. It is so moving and so strong. You should be very proud of this. It is an outstanding piece of writing. Well done!

  5. This is moving. I can feel some bittersweet emotions between the lines... Makes the heart beat faster. Excellent work!

  6. Magdelena,
    Makes the heart beat faster" is one of the best compliments I've ever gotten. Thanks

  7. Thank you all for your positive feedback. I really liked writing this.

  8. This is a great piece! The image you included is striking (pardon the pun) as well. The whole thing gave me shivers. And welcome to the Rally!

  9. A compelling read. And brings out strong emotions in the reader.

  10. Lola-Thanks again. I'm glad you keep deciding to read my stuff!

    Indi-Thanks for your positive support!

  11. invite you to share 1 to 3 poems to Jingle Poetry potluck now.

    first time participants can use old poems or poems unrelated to the theme.

    free style commenting,

    hope to see you share.


  12. This is a gut-wrenching poem, M.A.S. I think you may have expressed the thoughts of many young men/women who really were NOT prepared to be trained to kill. Of the three poems of yours I have read this morning, this is my favorite. I will continue to visit your blog.

  13. I don't think I'd be able to hold a gun, let alone shoot at a target in a close group. Powerful poetry here, and I don't mean gun-wise :)

    Rally Week 41 - My Poetry

  14. Thanks, Vinay.
    Holding the gun was easy. Actually putting a tight group on the target took a long time! I'm not quite a marksman.

  15. Hi

    I came over over from Poet's Rally.

    this is an awesome poem. i like it. i was taught to take apart an M16 too, and go for the zeroing and all that stuff. fortunately, i have left the army and need not make that kind of decision anymore.

    thanks for sharing. :)

  16. Thanks, Snake. I'm glad you could make a connection. Hopefully, you only ever had to shoot at targets like me.