| Poetry, Print Issues

The Pistol & the Pack

Oil on canvas

Ginger Ayla

He was a two-pack-a-day smoker, on bad days

three, and once on a smoke break explained

   how he first discovered cigarettes


when he was 10, with his friend, sticking a clothes hanger

into a locked drawer

in his uncle’s nightstand—a drawer that opened


just a crack and contained solely

a pistol and the pack.

  If they’d been able to use the hanger to lift the pistol


it would have been a gunshot:

We were boys

                     eyes only for trouble


and a hunger for destruction they can’t explain, even now—

but because they could reach the cigarettes instead

  it will likely be cancer and


to a question I didn’t ask

he said, Yes I do wish

                     it were the gun


                                 some days

Ginger Ayla (she/her) is a writer and poet who lives in Denver. She’s a grant writer by day and also volunteers as Editor-in-Chief of The Poetry Lab’s Resource Center. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Phoebe Journal, Grist, Cleaver, Heavy Feather Review, Ghost City Review, Sky Island Journal, and elsewhere.

Art: “Look” by Kateryna Bortsova

Oil on canvas

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