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Keith Stahl

The Extreme Killing Range of an Ordinary 12-Bore

I had a favorite game as a child in which I imagined I was water shot from a hose. I’d fly wild through the air, spinning and cartwheeling and jerking my body until I’d fall flat to the ground and vibrate. I soaked the world. I was the Maker of Jungles. But then, a jarring window-knock: “Get in the house! Play normal!” And so I would go inside and piece a puzzle, spin a top, or melt tiny German artillerymen with ferric chloride until they recoiled with shame and evaporated.

Rifling and Bullet Stability

Change is invariably denoted
by the letter “C”

C is always taken
as being equal


w is weight
d is distance
n is
empirical value.

weight of conundrums
distance from home
(do I really need
to spell this out?)

n is my psychological state

The hope
of a middle-aged man
to the square of C

to the cube of his tenuity.

Effect of Using Different Shotgun Powders

I see him hang
from the cross.
Holes in his hands
and under the ribs.
Molten lead
flows from the holes.
I AM made of clay, he informs me.
Chemical reaction.

He drops
to the ground
and I follow.

A body of water.

Walk, he says. On the water.
You can do it.

I am an MFA prose candidate in the Syracuse University Creative Writing Program, and my poetry is forthcoming in Into the Void, while my prose work has appeared in Notre Dame Review, Southeast Review, Puerto Del Sol, Per Contra, The Madison Review, Ghost Town, Corium, Euphony, Your Impossible Voice, Prick of the Spindle, and Medusa’s Laugh Press.. I was nominated for a 2016 Pushcart Prize.

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