My White Shirt

At three thousand feet per second,

a two-twenty-three caliber bullet,

booming from the sniper’s Bushmaster XM-15

would complete its subtly arched trajectory,

thud through my cotton shirt and rice-paper hide,

splash into my blood-logged heart,

or custard-texture brain,

way before the sound of the shot

meandered the unfettered stretch

from its reptilian-still gun barrel

to my already dying ears.


Not a time for easily-stained,

white, button-down shirts, I think

each morning

while rifling through the closet,

listening to the radio for news of another kill.


An irrational thought; I know that.

Statistics are way in my favor.

The snipers’ jurisdiction swells each day,

already encompassing thousands of square miles,

and five million human anatomies.

He could off one of us

every day for ten years, every hour even,

And the chances that my white shirt

Will ever wick up my own bullet-loosed blood

Would never be better than yours.


©Ivan Amato 2002

Published in Potomac Review, Issue 37, Spring/Summer 2004

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