Issue 31 – 2020 – Carrie Etter

The Shooting Gallery IV

Toyen, 1939

A woman’s face mid-scream: eyes squeezing shut, mouth a darkly lipsticked oval. The face became a fairground façade, ten feet high, and all those balls on the ground are for hurling through the hole, into the howl. In the distance, two men in overcoats who amused themselves awhile, pitching, laughing when one missed and the plaster cracked at the blow. Yes, there are birdcages here and there, but none has held a song.


The Shooting Gallery V

Toyen, 1939

Across the snowbound field, bird’s nests, twigs interlaced to make a firm bowl, a bed, a place of rest. Twenty on the ground, one aloft in a dead sapling.

Where are the birds?

Among the nests stand two manmade birdhouses, each with two tall, arched openings, each decorated with miniature shuttered windows, a miniature stag’s head.

Where are the birds?

There’s no seeing inside the birdhouses or into the conical well of the sapling’s nest.

At this stage, we cannot confirm the number of living or dead.


Carrie Etter has published four collections of poetry, most recently The Weather in Normal (UK: Seren; US: Station Hill, 2018), and individual poems in Boston Review, The Iowa Review, The New Republic, The New Statesman, The Times Literary Supplement, and many other journals and anthologies. Etter’s poems in this issue will appear in her forthcoming chapbook with Verve Poetry Press (UK), The Shooting Gallery. She is Reader in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University.