If I must be armed

If I must be armed
let it not be with cold
metallic instruments. Flowers
will do the trick. You may howl
at floral defense, try to worm
pistols into my moonlit
fingers, but I’ll have no moonlit
subterfuge. If I must be armed,
I’ll throw guns to the ground. Worms
can make homes of them in the cold,
shelter while winter winds howl,
then emerge to churn under springtime flowers.
If I must be armed, I’ll fit pink flowers
in each barrel, shoot petals in moonlit
massacres, the only howl
my own feral salute. If I must be armed
I’ll stow them all away in glacial cold,
plant jungle gyms for ice worms.
Must every bullet worm
its way into a heart? Must all flowers
grace a grave, rest in cold
comfort of a eulogy, witness moonlit
visitations from hollow-eyed, armed
penitents, bear the howl
of anguish come too late? Go on, howl
at pacifists, call me a worm
too cowardly to want to be armed.
All I need are flowers,
not flowing blood, not some moonlit
fantasy of bravery, not cold
metal in hot hands. The world is often cold
but I won’t howl
for lack of firepower. A moonlit
pasture will suffice. The worms
below are plenty. With flowers,
I am adequately armed.
My skin is moonlit, fragile but not cold.
I dance, infinitely armed. I whirl and howl
and thump hello to worms. I sing, and up come flowers.



Tara Campbell

Tara Campbell is an award-winning writer, teacher, Kimbilio Fellow, fiction co-editor at Barrelhouse, and graduate of American University's MFA in Creative Writing.& She teaches flash fiction and speculative fiction at venues such as American University, Johns Hopkins University, Clarion West, The Writer's Center, Hugo House, and the National Gallery of Art. Publication credits include Masters Review, Wigleaf, Electric Literature, CRAFT Literary, Daily Science Fiction, Strange Horizons, and Escape Pod/Artemis Rising. She's the author of a novel, two short story collections, and two hybrid collections of poetry and prose, including Political AF: A Rage Collection with Unlikely Books. Find her at www.taracampbell.com


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Monday, August 21, 2023 - 15:09