NOMI STONE The Soldier Takes the Anthropologist to the Shooting Range

After shooting, we go to the buffet, and there is so much meat:
chicken and fat and cuts of hog, then banana pudding
with crumbled cookies. We eat so much it is awful, almost.

What do I want with this place?
I’ve got a candle in me. It won’t quit.

Later we walk through his tomatoes, lush and stemmy. There’s one
fruit, green. I came again and why? To be next to it, whatever “it” is
and not die? You look for the dark, Billy says, in things.

The wick is lit
like a gun.

The targets, once birds: changed into silhouettes with red kill-
spots, heart-shots. Billy knows what it (he) does and did / the hole
in the throat / the eyes so surprised.

If you hold it wrong,
it will bite your thumb.

He presses my back. It goes when I press. I jump when it goes.
The round so splits her: nerves / root / where
to take cover, in this field of copper teeth?

Don’t shoot so high.
You’re aiming at God.

Then, I went in. Did I know what I did? It rang with a ping.
Bullseye, red as a torch. He threw up his arms. I was I. It was


Nomi Stone is a poet and an anthropologist. Her second collection of poems, Kill Class is forthcoming from Tupelo Press in 2019. Winner of a 2018 Pushcart Prize, Stone’s poems appear recently or will soon in POETRY, American Poetry Review, The New Republic, The Academy of American Poets’ “Poem-a-Day” series, Bettering American Poetry 2017, The Best American Poetry 2016, Tin House, New England Review, and elsewhere. Kill Class is based on two years of fieldwork she conducted within war trainings in mock Middle Eastern villages erected by the US military across America. Stone has an MFA in Poetry from Warren Wilson College and teaches anthropology at Princeton University.

Cover image: Photo by David Paschke