John Jeffire

Bump Stock

And so again to gather ye
Upon the hallowed floor
32 stories above which
The sacred fell the sacred floor
Those noble 59 did not
Sacrifice their rights so that
You could seize mine
With ear upon freedom’s door
As forefathers conceived this
Day forth a new militia
Quothing ever or nevermore
Dedicated to the inalienable
Well-trained eye to stand
Its ground and pound into
Submission all ye who threaten
The fruitful grain we stored
By the truth in the night nor
Human hand nor eye dare
The gore we bore this shore
Hireling or slave to this very
Flag we kneel in anthemic
Amendment thusly four score
I can tell you this believe me
Let taps ring and sing as forth
Bags and caskets we smiling bring
To bump the association stock
For whom the closing bell tolls
Hand over heart…and mouth
And eyes into star-spangled house
Divided our heroic lead pours
These simple oaths we swore
More blood, more barrel, more



Who me?
Yeah you.
What’s next?
You’re up.
Hold up.
Sit down.
Stand up.
Shut up.
Go back.
Wait here.
Buy now.
Fuck yeah.
Fuck no.
Fuck you.
Fuck me?
Fuck off.
Fuck all.
Fuck head.
Fuck it.
Eat shit.
Eat out.
Eat here.
Eat me.
Live well.
Lights out.
Some friend.
Makes sense.
Live long.
Love strong.
Laugh deep.
Be free.
On guard.
Click bait.
Fake news.
Hear me.
Get up.
Get out.
Get off.
Get down.
Bed time.
Be kind.
Pay up.
Step up.
Screw up.
Dumb shit.
Let’s dance.
Not now.
No hope.
Not once.
No way.
Fat chance.
Bite me.
Fat free.
Love you.
Call me.
Write soon.



Sure, maybe I never been right but
sure as shit I been wronged, short
thug shunned an inch shy of the
coaster without his thickest soles.
Recognize the stare—dazed,
incredulous anyone’s life could
be so full of electronic locks
and another shake down already
sounded before head count.
But it’s not dazed—not really.
It’s just the why of everything,
the can’t-make-no-sense-of-it why
that refuses to slide like a chalked
cue in the augured groove
between thumb and index.
Your cellie stinks the stainless
commode, leaves pubes in the
sink, sprawls in the top tray
rereading letters he can’t read,
ear buds plugged into the same
damn shit got him rolled up
in the first place.  No sheets or
laces, fifty-two square of keep-yo-
ass-the-fuck-away, slipping
fungus toes into flip-flops
awaiting some good lookin’ out
when the cement floor dances,
pod lights catch the DTs,
fingerprints flee the dayroom:
no use grabbin’ onto nothing, man—
………ain’t no way out but out.


Bombing a Funeral

Sheathed cyanide seed
Palled aloft,
throng wailing—
Eardrums burst.
Knee surge,
Body throttled,
Mind blown,
Skin stripped,
Bone shredded,
Rocket flak
Car hull turned
Grenade, tattered
Ball bearing
Vest of Satan—
Black suits
Black dresses
Black hats
Burned black
Blown bowels
Blood sod.
Pine box
Brain matter
No matter
But the funerals
Of those who
Walked this one,
Their funerals
Breed funerals,
The dead burying
The dead burying
The dead in Sanaa,
Hay Al-Amal,
Abadam Faransa,
Suruc and Zamalka
One funeral becomes
A dozen becomes
A thousand as the
Eyeless dead hum
The harvest dirge.







John Jeffire was born in Detroit. In 2005, his novel Motown Burning was named Grand Prize Winner in the Mount Arrowsmith Novel Competition and in 2007 it won a Gold Medal for Regional Fiction in the Independent Publishing Awards. Speaking of Motown Burning, former chair of the Pulitzer Jury Philip F. O’Connor said, “It works. I don’t often say that, but it has a drive and integrity that gives it credible life….I find a novel with heart.” In 2009, Andra Milacca included Motown Burning in her list of “Six Savory Novels Set in Detroit” along with works by Elmore Leonard, Joyce Carol Oates, and Jeffrey Eugenides. His first book of poetry, Stone + Fist + Brick + Bone, was nominated for a Michigan Notable Book Award in 2009. Former U.S. Poet Laureate Philip Levine called the book “a terrific one for our city.” His most recent book, Shoveling Snow in a Snowstorm, a poetry chapbook, was published by the Finishing Line Press in 2016. For more on the author and his work, visit