I have heard that sometimes being shot does not hurt,

or hurts only vaguely, like a sense of missing something.

This is the body, shocked, uncomprehending of magnitudes,

of calibers, of numbers whose referent is many lives, is life,

the unity divided, the division made whole, the body

without organs, the organs bleeding together.

Names name nothing here. Here it is empty,

immeasurable if only because every time

it feels the same as every other time.


Each day’s passing compounds

our losses, a blueblack interest,

until, disinterested, disinterred,

we are divvied into piles

like spoils.


Here is our truest test:

Everybody must own a gun

and practice shooting nothing.


Shooting dirt, a husk

of rusted pop can,

a rotting melon,

a milk jug full

of red water.


Henry Whittier-Ferguson