To all the tough women in Texas who actually know how to handle guns.

My daddy got the job for me. He wanted me to work.
And daddy’s got a lot of social clout.
I told him “When it comes to guns, I’m just a worthless jerk!”
He answered, “Take the cash and shut your mouth.”

I screwed up on two other sets. The stagehands were enraged.
I gave a kid a pistol as a joke.
I didn’t know the protocols. What’s more, I was engaged
In texting girlfriends as I took a toke.

No one told me that it was a stupid thing to do,
To hold guns in your armpits as you walked.
But there was a mascara brush (Light Violet Number 2)
My hands were occupied with as I talked.

I didn’t know you couldn’t have live ammo on the set—
The only cartridges allowed are blanks.
I kept all kinds of rounds, and now I’m really quite upset.
I guess I won’t be getting any thanks.

Alec showed me sympathy, and said to pay no heed:
“The feminists will keep you out of jail.
In Hollywood our loyalty is to the Liberal Creed—
A girl who does a man’s job CANNOT fail!”

“Instead,” he said, “we’ll turn this to a propaganda coup—
Guns are evil, all good liberals say.
Instead of looking at the facts, and castigating you,
We’ll blame the whole thing on the NRA.”



Joseph S. Salemi has published five books of poetry, and his poems, translations and scholarly articles have appeared in over one hundred publications world-wide.  He is the editor of the literary magazine Trinacria and writes for Expansive Poetry On-line. He teaches in the Department of Humanities at New York University and in the Department of Classical Languages at Hunter College.

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7 Responses

  1. Brian Yapko

    Joseph, this poem, which you must have composed at lightspeed, is viciously funny and frighteningly accurate. I actually live about five miles from where the “Rust” shooting took place and Santa Fe has become the center of a media frenzy because of it. You have skillfully captured the collision of incompetence and nepotism that seems to characterize the career of this unbelievably unqualified armorer. From what I’ve read, Reed has earned every ounce of our vitriol. And more.

  2. Sally Cook

    This is almost as if one might be reading from a script ! These whiny basbies have it all their own way, don’t they? I am so tired of long-haired screechywomen – the few friends I have of my own sex are honest, thoughtful, well versed ladies. What you might call hot broads. This is Salemi t his satiric bes, simply recprding the tragic idiocies of the day. Puts me in mind of
    that guy who played his violin while his city burned.

  3. Mike Bryant

    Biting humor, and so much truth… all in a perfect package… a master at work… or play?

  4. C.B. Anderson

    It’s not like you, Joseph, to come up with heterometric stanzas, but here you’ve done it, much to our mutual delight. Executed regularly, heterometrics are as pure a formal structure as anything. And God help the poor wight that comes to this party unarmed.

    • Joseph S. Salemi

      Kip, I composed the entire thing in about twenty minutes. Days earlier I had read the news reports of the shooting, and of the incompetence and carelessness of the Gutierrez girl, but what sent me into the blood-rage that generated this poem so quickly was seeing her picture on the internet: the typically vapid millennial airhead, with a smug look of bored entitlement on her face, wearing a trendy demonic T-shirt. “That tore it” as the Brits say.

  5. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Joe S., this scathing, spot-on poem serves to prove that channeling one’s ire creatively is the way to go… perhaps I’ll try it some time.


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