To the Neighbor Boy with his Father’s Hunting Rifle, Begging Police to Shoot

To the Neighbor Boy with his Father’s Hunting Rifle, Begging Police to Shoot
By Emilia Phillips

Your name is an empty clip
the local news wants to load

with rumors of substance
abuse. Disturbed, next

door says over the fence as he pushes
his mower into the shed

after the borough’s door-
to-door order to stay

in. The streets went dark first
with SWAT, their helmets sun-

glossed to mirror. They looked
bored this far down, kicking dirt

& wiping palm sweat
on the Kevlar over

their hearts. Later, something else
rolled in—not dark

exactly. It was still
afternoon, & I walked

out on my porch but wasn’t
turned back. I heard you, faint

& guttered to nonsense
by the hot wind,

but I couldn’t see you. Blocked
by vans, I watched instead

the tree in your parents’ yard
sway, turning out its leaves

like wrists, the air a-hiss
with radios, & still

no black clouds.
No dark rain.


Emilia Phillips is the author of two poetry collections from the University of Akron Press, Signaletics (2013) and Groundspeed (forthcoming 2016), and three chapbooks, most recently Beneath the Ice Fish Like Souls Look Alike (Bull City Press, 2015). Her poems and lyric essays appear in Agni, Boston Review, Gulf Coast, The Kenyon Review, New England Review, Ninth Letter, Ploughshares, Poem-a-Day, Poetry, Verse Daily, and elsewhere. She received StoryQuarterly’s 2015 Nonfiction Prize, The Journal’s 2012 Poetry Prize, as well as the 2013–2014 Emerging Writer Lectureship from Gettysburg College and fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, The Kenyon Review Writers’ Workshop, U.S. Poets in Mexico, and Vermont Studio Center. She is Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Centenary University.