Gun Song

By Alivia Vaughns

I’m at a concert and the main singer comes on and talks about the next song and how they found a gun in their father’s sock drawer and I’m standing there in shock because apparently I’ve never listened closely to the lyrics though I should’ve known with a title like “Gun Song” and all the sudden I wonder if my dad has a gun in his sock drawer and I wonder if I care or not and my unresolved thoughts on guns arise and I suppose he was in the military so he can handle a gun but everyone shouldn’t have access and why are so many people so passionate about guns and why can’t they see the killer is human and machine and a system that fails us and do I support guns in the house and why am I not more passionate about this subject and why don’t I have more definitive opinions on anything and I don’t listen to “Gun Song” for a while.

Handgun disassembled
Photo by Rachel Claire on

Until my dad comes home months later and takes me into his room and closes the door because my brother isn’t mature enough yet and shows me this box and for the first time in my life I see a gun – a gun is sitting packaged neatly in front of me and I don’t know what to do and my dad is explaining his logic and why now he decided to get one and it’s for the virus-stricken world people driven mad by the pandemic and I understand and I feel calm and he tells me that he learned to hunt and shoot guns at age six and he was a really good shot in the military and I’m trying to see how I can piece together all this new information while staring at the black barrel and he has it as a precaution and it isn’t his first line of defense and he keeps asking if I have any questions and the only one I can think of is can he name this feeling that I can’t explain because what do you call it when it feels like a bullet is shooting through veins splattering blood cells and I leave the room.

I’m holding it in my hands feel the weight he says feel the trigger and here’s the safety don’t worry all the bullets are out and I never keep it loaded at home aim here and never there and I don’t want to tell him how scared I feel and how foreign and heavy and weighted it is in my hand and maybe if I keep this façade up he will let me go and I can put down the gun and the bullet looks so small in my hand I wonder what it would feel like piercing skin.

And I don’t think about the gun again until I can’t not think about it and then I play “Gun Song” on repeat

I can’t believe what I found in daddy’s

sock drawer, sock drawer today

It was a pistol, a Smith & Wesson

holy holy shit

About the Author

Alivia Vaughns is a queer, black poet in her last year at the University of Pittsburgh, who uses poetry as a bridge between the seams of identity and race.

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