Ruth Awad is a Lebanese-American poet and the author of Set to Music a Wildfire (Southern Indiana Review Press, 2017), winner of the 2016 Michael Waters Poetry Prize. She is the recipient of a 2016 Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award, and her work has appeared in The New Republic, The Missouri Review Poem of the Week, Sixth Finch, CALYX, BOAAT Journal, Diode, The Adroit Journal, Vinyl Poetry, Epiphany, Nashville Review, and elsewhere. Her work also appears in the anthologies Bettering American Poetry Volume 2 (Bettering Books, 2017), The Hundred Years’ War: Modern War Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2014), New Poetry from the Midwest 2014 (New American Press, 2015), and Poets on Growth (Math Paper Press, 2015). She won the 2012 and 2013 Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize and the 2011 Copper Nickel Poetry Contest. She has an MFA in poetry from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and she lives in Columbus, Ohio.
Guns Won’t Feed You, But Hold Out Your Hands
And forget for a moment
the machine is itself alive
and by design
sated with the alien
softness of organ,
framework of bone.
Point its muzzle
only at what you are willing
to destroy —
notice your target and what
is beyond it
it — your neighbor,
the dog, a child.
A bullet’s path
is characterized by hunger —
how far and how long
and how much?
The truth is the mechanics
don’t come naturally.
It should take more
than a finger.
Our gods disappoint us so we make new ones. Some glower like smoke. Some wheel
in suffering like dying stars. Oh, simple interstellar dust,
you’ve made us love the fate that yokes us. To be good when living makes us mean.
Say you know what I mean, northern flicker, small feather of a smaller planet.
God who ate everything, did this world feed you? There were enough bodies.
There were blades that passed like a stranger in starlight. In some worlds, you’re so
close I could kiss you.
____________In some worlds, we keep meeting.
God of six supposedly impossible things: weep of wolves, a drought of bullets,
the claws of a catawba, a mother’s unworry, a wilderness of blood,
the dead keeping count.
I, too, am rich in things I never asked for.