The Take

The Take: Joshua Adams

Ever wonder how journal editors make decisions about work to feature? The Take gives you a glimpse behind the scenes at Mud Season Review. Here, we feature one single poem or flash fiction piece that caught the attention of the editorial team, apart from the signature poetry portfolio or fiction piece in our bi-monthly issues. We hear from the author about the inspiration for his or her work, and we hear from a co-editor about why the poem or flash fiction story stood out.

V. Joshua Adams

Twenty Sixteen

The creek bed divides
a riot of pinks
& borrowed fireman’s boots
plough dust to a patch of scrub

where clay pigeons fission
through silver maples
planted to celebrate armistice.
Shotgun stock bucks labrum up:

I miss, but love the scent,
almost nourishment.
Light as a paperweight
sales award, or a wooden racquet

loosely gripped, the Luger flips
a presbyter handbell peal
as each bullet heads to disc.
Sound says good,

you’re good at this. Who isn’t
or couldn’t be?
That’s the trick, the story we know
without knowing we know it.

At last, the old Soviet machine.
Large and long, grim
ammunition tapered sharp
for penetrating bushes, walls, and doors,

odd to aim, one always saw it
slung mid-hip
by actors playing darker men.
But hoisted, sighted, trigger pulled,

current snaking spine
and gut, one cartridge
vaults away, the next one volunteers—
nothing desperate or wrong

just force orchestrating air:
like a major chord
pricks each tender scalp
in the stadium at once.

Author’s Statement

An afternoon shooting guns in rural Ohio — that was the germ of this poem. It was my first time, and I was struck by the thrill it gave me to use these weapons. Of course I knew how problematic that thrill was. Reckoning with this tension felt important. As language started to transform experience, a certain kind of a diction emerged as way of testifying to our complicity with violence. The collective dimensions of this complicity are underscored by the title.

From the Editors

“Twenty Sixteen” is well crafted through use of its sharp language. This poem holds musicality as well as a rhythm: “…where clay pigeons fission through silver maples planted to celebrate armistice.” Adams’ use of imagery and sensory details romanticizes the practice of shooting in a field; the power of the shot blast added to the adrenaline rush. At the same time, this poem highlights the speaker’s moral struggle of society’s use of firearms; using guns for protection versus use of a gun for sport.


By Grier Martin

Grier Martin has worked with Mud Season Review since 2017, as a poetry reader, associate poetry editor, poetry co-editor, and co-editor-in-chief. She is an active participant in the Burlington Writers Workshop and founded its Poetry Discussion Group, which she led for over a year. She is a resident of Burlington, VT and a graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.