Today's poem is by Michael Salcman

Contra Chekhov

The gun never went off: not in the first act, not in the second,
not even in the third. Of course, it was meant to be a rifle
hanging on a wall and not a pistol, certainly not a popgun.
But there it was, a weapon so small and portable, it was not
easily noticed by the audience, something you could hide
away in a table with a single drawer and a top of in-laid
green parchment, a color dark enough not to clash with the
old prints hanging on the hallway wall. Therefore, the fact
that it never went off created hardly any disappointment,
not in the general public and not in the near relatives and
other witnesses in the audience surrounded by images of
much bigger, noisier guns fired off by their owners on every
conceivable occasion, not just in drawing rooms but in
church, in the halls of government, in the streets of modest
suburbs. The absence of noise might have been more
disturbing than the absence of action if not for the surfeit
of noise and action in every book, television show and
film, not to mention the theater of life, with its electronic
devices and absence of silence. Making a silence was now
the equivalent of making a noise and the owner of the not-
quite-big-enough gun considered inaction a kind of protest,
an almost invisible movement against the roaring tide.

Copyright © 2011 Michael Salcman All rights reserved
from New Letters
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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