by Brooks Briggs
On its brim two boys sit like half-folded lawn chairs; evening air strains their idle banter and drains punctuation to the valley below. I see their blued-barrels teetering on bent knees, angled to hurl chasing metal at darting mammals or rooted trash; I stop to watch. They feed metal clips; kill some time; count the cans along the gulch, then string them on lines of bullet smoke: a tumbling Book of Hours. Between the sage at last a pulse: dash dash dash dot. Their metal chambers finally wake, responding with booming snaps. Quick legs dodge sneezing pockets of sand, then stop abruptly. The ears are spread, and curses spill with coper casings. While magazines argue against desperate packing, I watch the prey sit calm and wait: the valley swallows. When at last the beads are drawn, emptiness – the vacancy of a sandy tongue.