Karisma Price
The Art of London Firearms


For the sake of living longer, we should not 

eat this. The bottomless pan of mac and cheese


stringing itself from itself to the porcelain plate

as the television drones and the men


with glasses like mine—the frames that make us look

smarter than what we are—talk about Florida, its shores,


its hurricanes, prisons and poisons, before All that killing, 

killing, killing, for the sake of killing, my mother says as we split


the tender meat falling from the bone of the bird buried

in barbecue. To sleep peacefully, I’ve made a habit of watching


videos of greyhounds hunting plastic eggs for the treats inside. 

Always another animal wants to feed on our insides, to lick the walls


of our throats. The buffalo with its head bowed ready to blunt 

the horse carrying empire. The steel spread around the grip 


of sculpted walnut encased in glass. At the Met, we view this art,

The Art of London Firearms, the beauty of European gunmaking


packaged and brilliant because it is a violence not meant for us

to succumb to. At our American table, eating cheese, imported from Rome, 


cured pieces of pancetta, imported from Rome, and wine,

      from the fridge,

I remember reading that if it was possible to domesticate the zebras,

     it would be


over for them. All the force we claim as talent would be used

     to keep the imported

zebra-horse hybrids hostage and galloping on the grasslands

     of Gainesville


or near the swamps of the Everglades. All their mothers braying

      from lack, 

back home in Africa. But, what do you know about being tamed? 


Each of us now in our petless-zebra world are wondering when

     the next

body will fall and how long it will take the men whose tongues rise

     and bow


like the heads of buffalo to blame the violence not meant for them

     on something

that is not the barrel, not the bullet, walnut, rosewood, platinum, or           plastic carving


death in our insides. No, we want the smoke, just like the gazelle

     and the little man

on his yellow chariot eyeing her body for burial. We are so barbaric we       are human,


everyday pretending we don’t know surviving requires us to hurt someone.







This poem is the winner of the 2023 Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize.


Found In Volume 52, No. 05
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  • Karisma Price
Karisma Price
About the Author

Karisma Price is an assistant professor of English at Tulane University. A poet, screenwriter, and media artist, she is the author of I’m Always So Serious (Sarabande Books, 2023). She is a Cave Canem Fellow, was a finalist for the 2019 Manchester Poetry Prize, and was awarded the 2020 J. Howard and Barbara M. J. Wood Prize from the Poetry Foundation. A native New Orleanian, she holds an MFA in poetry from New York University, where she was a Writers in the Public Schools Fellow.