What is the opposite of a gun?
The opposite of a gun is wherever you point it – one answer to the question asked in this poem, by Brendan Constantine
This week, a lot of people are turning to – or first discovering, as we did – this poem by the Los Angeles poet Brendan Constantine:
The Opposites Game
for Patricia Maisch
This day my students and I play the Opposites Game
with a line from Emily Dickinson. My life had stood
a loaded gun, it goes and I write it on the board,
pausing so they can call out the antonyms –
Had stood ? Will sit
For a moment, very much like the one between
lightning and its sound, the children just stare at me,
and then it comes, a flurry, a hail storm of answers –
Flower, says one. No, Book, says another. That’s stupid,
cries a third, the opposite of a gun is a pillow. Or maybe
a hug, but not a book, no way is it a book. With this,
the others gather their thoughts
and suddenly it’s a shouting match. No one can agree,
for every student there’s a final answer . . .
• Read the full text of “The Opposites Game” at The American Journal of Poetry.