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The Dripby Brew Editors5:04 pmMay 27, 20220

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 –

My                           Your
Life                         Death
Had stood ?       Will sit
A                               Many
Loaded                  Empty
Gun ?

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.

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