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Graham Barnhart
Photo by Alexandra Seinet

A row of steel frames with counter
weight chains raise target silhouettes 
above a concrete bunker.
Rifles whip crack and echo— 

                                              What else can a rifle do, 
                                              but crack? Pop, chatter, bang, clap,
                                              just names for the silence following after. 

On lowered targets I mark bullet holes 
with cardboard discs like shocked into singing mouths.  
White circles plug hits on the silhouette, 
black for the misses outside it.  
They seem to whistle—  

                                              Look. Look. They can’t tell
                                              when they’ve hit something.
                                              O what death we will make from you. 

When I fire black haloes converge into clustered 
white hearts, and the high whine of ricochet 
rounds seem to split thin leaf stems 
from their branches. They drift, 
and the bullets keep passing through.  

                                              What art will I make from you?

Graham Barnhart served as a Special Forces medic in Iraq and Afghanistan and is currently pursuing an MFA at Ohio State University. His work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Beloit Poetry JournalThe Gettysburg ReviewGulf CoastThe Sewanee Review, and others. He was recently named the recipient of the 2015 Chad Walsh Poetry Prize from the Beloit Poetry Journal.