Gun for hire

That time has come. The streets are silent, cleared
Of people. Even dogs have disappeared.
All doors are bolted, blinds and shutters down.
A fear spreads like a sickness through the town.
And so the morning’s passed. The sun hangs high.
Hawk circles slowly in an empty sky.
Bare brown hills shimmer in the summer haze.
Clock on the wall counts down the end of days.
How many times now have I faced this pain:
Seen it go down, then watched it rise again.
One round is all I have, and if I miss
I’m dead for sure. How did it come to this?
The church bell chimes, and as its echoes fade
I step outside. This is the only trade
I know: another day, another fight.
Collect my fee, move on. No end in sight.

 
 

Don’t get me wrong; working freelance has its benefits. Lately, though, the pace has been relentless, and it’s felt pretty lonely; but when you’re being paid by the hour or by the job, it’s hard to turn any assignment away. I guess this poem could also be about anything we find ourselves doing over and over, wondering when we can finally hang ‘em up and find a little peace.

Prosody note: the couplets were there right from the start; I was 10 lines in before I realised I was writing in iambic pentameter. Just sneaked up on me and shot me in the back.

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4 thoughts on “Gun for hire

  1. Hi Nick, good poem and sad too, sometimes it is hard to struggle with all responsibilities, money, creativity and health, hoping for better times. As sometimes it is just great to do the only trade you know 🙂 x

  2. Nick,
    I would have endorsed the sentiment behind this poem wholeheartedly a few months back, but now that I have actually retired, I have gone through a long struggle. For awhile I could not write or read, and I simply did not know what to do with myself. I am slowly adjusting, but life is strange. When you are in the grind the grind seems endless and maybe even hopeless, but when you are out of it at long last, suddenly you have trouble knowing what to do with yourself. I suspect that for a long while I had minor depression.
    You are so gifted at poetry, though. As usual I am delighted. The rhymes and metre are so well handled that neither interferes with the sense or the syntax. So many poets who try to write with metre and rhyme on wordpress just can’t pull that off. You can in spades, and that is a delight that sets a poetic craftsman’s spirit soaring. Couplets can be especially hard to pull off effectively, yet,
    That time has come. The streets are silent, cleared
    Of people. Even dogs have disappeared.
    All doors are bolted, blinds and shutters down.
    A fear spreads like a sickness through the town.
    And so the morning’s passed. The sun hangs high.
    the music of your couplets, the syntax, the poetry are really really well-done.

    • You’re always so kind and generous in your reponses, Tom; it’s humbling, really. I also know the ‘crash’ that comes when things go quiet after a busy spell; it’s the freelancer’s lot to grumble when the phone keeps ringing, then lie awake at night fretting when it stops. Feast and famine, as they say. I’m glad you approve of my couplets; I’m always worried they’re a little too simplisitic and sing-song to count as ‘real’ poetry. But you are a real poet, so I will accept that it is, and be happy.

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