Open Season on the American Experience: Poem By Kathleen S. Burgess

Image of hunter during open season, an American experience


Silhouetted by a sun about to fail,
this man takes aim. On the other side
his face must gleam, as a cartridge
case, ejected, tumbles wingless.

Skyward. Into clouds. Gray eyes
focus from the shade of a wide brim.
Sweat-curled hair spills from the hat
back, down his neck and collar.

The rifle butt narrows to its dark
barrel as a fist to an eager finger.
Clouds explode. Birds scatter.
His target convulses. Spins away.

In his holster a pistol sits snug,
walnut grip and trigger ready
for the short shot. To make sure,
he’ll cock again. Fire. And again.

At first, only the moon’s flushed
face begins to fade. An eye
rising into less light. Then
the red mist sudden, and fine.


Kathleen S. Burgess About Kathleen S. Burgess

Kathleen S. Burgess lives in Chillicothe, Ohio, and writes narrative and lyric poetry about the American experience in a variety of voices. Her work has been published in North American Review, Evening Street Review, Main Street Rag, Atticus Review, The Examined Life, JMWW, r.kv.r.y, Central American Review, and others. Shaping What Was Left, a chapbook, and Reeds and Rushes—Pitch, Buzz, and Hum, the anthology she edited, are Pudding House publications.
Gardening with Wallace Stevens, a chapbook, was published in 2017 by Locofo Chaps, a site for politically oriented poetry, with cover art by Linda Holmes.


  1. Kathleen S. Burgess says:

    I want to thank Editor William Ray for publishing this poem, and give credit to Matt Day for his photograph, Matt Day Photo, It was first shown at his solo exhibit at Cynthia Davis’s PVG Artisans in Chillicothe, Ohio, http://www.parkviewgallery@wordpress.

    • Thank you for writing wonderful poetry and sharing it with our readers. Photo credit duly noted and appreciated. Interested readers will enjoy your narrative-lyric poems, each with a distinctive voice and local viewpoint, scheduled for publication weekly at the site through April. Poetry of such rich texture, deep context, and acute perception are rare. Welcome to, Kathleen!

  2. Roy Bentley says:

    I read this poem upon waking. First thing. And was reminded, by its force and clarity, that poetry is that: a waking. Very nicely done.

    Best wishes, Kathleen. (And a woot-woot!)


  3. Beautiful, Kathleen. “At first, only the moon’s flushed / face begins to fade.” Yes, death waits. Thank you.

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