From M the Media Project Special Feature on Gun Violence in America
Joshua Michael Stewart is a poet and musician who has had poems published in the Massachusetts Review, Salamander, Plainsongs, Brilliant Corners, and many others.
His books are, Break Every String, (Hedgerow Books, 2016) and, The Bastard Children of Dharma Bums, (Human Error Publishing, 2020).
His albums, Three Meditations, and Ghost in the Room, can be found on Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, and many other platforms. Visit his web site at www.joshuamichaelstewart.com, or better yet, interact with him at www.facebook.com/joshua.m.stewart.526/.
For this column Joshua will explore poetry, music, and Buddhism, and how they all intersect with each other. He will delve into assorted poetic forms and he will specifically highlight contemporary poets from the New England area, and the poets associated with classical Japanese and Chinese poetry.
I asked all of our contributing writers to contribute to this week’s special feature on gun violence in America in their own words. Poet Joshua Michael Stewart offers our readers this personal poetic expression; growing up with guns and unbridled violent culture in post-industrial Ohio.
Cuckoo clocks ticked in every room of my mother’s house.
None told the right time, all fake. Latch and hinge—
open each face and you’d find a loaded pistol.
Two rifle cabinets in every bedroom, a dozen
shotguns draped in confederate flags behind beveled glass.
An assault weapon stashed inside a hollow wall.
“Don’t tell anyone what I showed you behind that wall,”
my stepdad said as we crept from a spare bedroom.
Fortify yourself. Shun the windows.
I was twelve when my brother pointed a snub-nosed
.38 at my face. He stood me against a wall,
outstretched the revolver, click. Mom kept a derringer
on her nightstand beside her water glass. Latchkey kids,
the first thing we learned was how to unlock every gun case.
We were alone in the house. My brother could pick any lock.
The first time I fired a .22 I missed the empty soda can by a foot.
The second time I shot a .22 I blew a hole in my bedroom wall.
A neighbor called the police. I shot out his garage windows.
I didn’t think he’d know it was me in the John Wayne mask.
You’ll find this poem in the upcoming collection of poems by Joshua Michael Stewart, ‘Love Something’.
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