John Kinsella

Ode to Disarmament
February 26, 2021 Kinsella John

Ode to Disarmament


I am fairly sure that the leafhopper
now on the bricks is not au fait with bullets,
and likely never will be — small and still,
mimicking the leaves it has hopped from —


if only because its life is relatively brief,
but still, so much longer than the flight
of a bullet, the rapid-fire power-trips
of authorities-worshippers-hunters-militias.


Though the cuckoo-shrike branch-
hopping nearby likely will know gunfire,
even if not directed at them, the valley
an echo chamber, a gatherer of cause


and effect. That violent delusion
of revolution and humanity that fed
Berkman’s adjustments of purpose:
a question of what can or can’t


be reached by a bullet as if provenance
of the bullet itself is at a remove
from the body it rends. Those symbols
that brings blood into the open,


that end breath. No. Violence
expresses nothing other than violence.
The accuracy of the wielder
is like the skill of the wealthy


philanthropists revelling in their
own largesse, their self-advertising
goodness. They are never far away
from the materials of armaments.


And the percussion of hammer
on detonator is not uncommon here,
reaching into a concept of weaponlessness,
where even knives might be considered


tools that could never be used
to inflict harm. But for some it’s not poetry,
is it, if it doesn’t rouse deep out of the collective
memory of death — that killzone?


And sheep come into peripheral
envisioning like clues to the Golden rip-off,
the idea of their slaughter to make
harmonious interjections into warfare —


slaughterhouses don’t stop any more
than armed conflicts as pandemics make
herds dead and noted by Worldometer. Death in death.
The brazen stats of empire made divisible


and the gaming of the gunsmith is the cabinet
of Dr. Caligari, the hypnotics of ‘twitch’ in the ‘defence
jobs’ revolution of consumer rights, headiness
of greenhouse downtime.


I am fairly sure that the leafhopper
now on the bricks is not au fait with bullets,
and hopefully never will be — its jaws testing
air acrid with fumes, the recoil.

John Kinsella’s poetry volume Insomnia was published by WW Norton in the US in 2020. Norton will publish his new selected poems in 2025, and a new collection of poetry, Aporia, will appear with Turtle Point Press, also in 2025. He is a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge University, Emeritus Professor of Literature and Environment at Curtin University, and an Affiliated Scholar with Kenyon College.