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New poem by TCBH resident poet Gary Lindorff -- 'Gun Tales of a Pacifist'

By dlindorff - Posted on 15 February 2016

Gun tales of a pacifist


My brother and I learned to shoot

At summer camp.

That is where gunpowder

Became my favorite smell;

It had a tangy burned pungency

That hung in the air after each shot,

Better than Christmas.

After five or six shots

We would all run up

To inspect our targets

Even though our acute vision

Had already reported back our score.

With our guns

We were all rebel-princes,

Hooded heroes and highwaymen,

Plotting ways to defend the commoner

From our hideaway

In the king’s forest.


And then there was the boy

Who shot his whole family

In the same town as our camp.

They knocked down the house,

Bulldozed it flat and planted pine trees

Over the spot.

The name of the boy

And the family was never uttered again.

It was like they were whited out.

But the trees are still there

Serving vigil.


When we weren’t at camp,

We took our .22s to the sand pit

And shot at cans on boulders,

Rarely missing except on purpose

When we targeted the boulders

To hear the zing of ricocheting bullets.

One time, in the sand pit,

We spotted a big Hognose snake.

(Snakes grew bigger when I was little.)

We got a box over it and the mothers came.

They called the police

Who responded straight-away,

Told us all to stand back

And shot it through the head

Before we had a chance to grow up

And learn to read

And fall in love with snakes

And find out that Hognose snakes are harmless

Rat-eaters. But I still remember

The dusty bloody carcass of that big snake

Lying still in the sandy dirt

After it stopped writhing,

And feeling that the cop

Did the wrong thing

Even if the snake was, as he declared,


And the whole thing was very anti-climactic.

But the cop and the mothers

Had done their duty.

And I couldn’t wait to get back to

My childhood

Which only lasted a few more years.


       --Gary Lindorff


GARY LINDORFF is resident artist at ThisCantBeHappening!, the independent, uncompromised, five-time Project Censored Award-winning online alternative news site. His work, and that of colleagues JOHN GRANT, JESS GUH, DAVE LINDORFF, ALFREDO LOPEZ, LINN WASHINGTON, JR. and the late CHARLES M. YOUNG, can be found at

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