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Southern Cultures 11.3 (2005) 80-81

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"Shooting the Breeze" and "Chiaroscuro"

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Figure 1
"We were thirteen and had guns . . . "
Photograph courtesy of the Collections of the Library of Congress.
[End Page 80]

Shooting the Breeze

Aloof and aloft, the buzzards circled the farm,
and we would shoot at them, to no effect,
small guns popping, round after round.
               Did we know better?
We were thirteen and had guns.
Maybe small guns, but big enough, if we could only hit one,
to blow a hole in any bird that fed on carrion.
                    Still, we wondered
silently, how they rode the breeze forever,
as if sanctified.
     Only later would I learn
about the great-winged vultures the long-gone pharaohs deified,
and even later, Dante's dreadful song to death,
how it undoes so many,
          and from a P-3's vantage point,
watch Beirut burn and learn at last, I too was charmed,
flying circles, like an icon.


for John Jennings

The muffled pull and puff of breath, the soft
insistence of his need, dispel my dreams
and I wake up
          as swaths of headlights sweep
my wife and child, composed into one shape,
gigantic night
          rebounding through the room
while they lie still, curled on the cusp of sleep,
mouth to breast and filling god with god.
Edison Jennings has published in a variety of journals, most recently in Southern Poetry Review and Nantahala Review, and new poems will be appearing in The Kenyon Review and Clinch Mountain Review. He lives with his family in Abingdon, Virginia, and teaches at Virginia Intermont College.



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