From the Gunroom / Keith Stahl


Product Description

From the Gunroom

poems by

Keith Stahl

ISBN: 978-1-59948-874-5, 72 pages, $14 (+ shipping)

Release Date: April 19, 2021

The Advance Sale Discount on this title has expired.  For those who prefer to pay by check, price is $18/book (which includes shipping and applicable sales tax) and should be sent to: Main Street Rag, PO BOX 690100, Charlotte, NC 28227-7001. 


About The Author

Keith Stahl quit the restaurant business after thirty-plus years to finish his BA part-time at Syracuse University. He went on to earn an MFA from the Syracuse University Creative Writing Program (prose), where excerpts from the collection From the Gunroom won the Joyce Carol Oates Prize for Best Poetry Collection. His prose has appeared in Southeast Review, Puerto Del Sol, Notre Dame Review, and many other publications. His short story “Ol’ Sally” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His poetry has appeared in Into the Void, Hole In the Head Review, and Kestrel. Keith now resides in Syracuse, New York, with his wife, Mary, and a very large woodchuck under the porch.


In the Book of Isaiah 2:3-4, scripture reads, “they shall beat their plowshares into swords, and their spears into pruning hooks.” In From the Gunroom, Keith Stahl does the literary equivalent by reimagining a gun manual as a work of poetry, effectively demilitarizing the manual and reconstituting the language, an alchemical transformation the results of which are life affirming and profound. ~Christopher Kennedy


Keith Stahl just wowed me with his ability to wring sheer poetry from the broken innards of (wait for it) a gun manual. Stahl’s heart and hilarity are unparalleled and this book is our poetry year’s sleeper hit. ~Mary karr


Keith Stahl’s poems in From the Gunroom recycle words and phrases like “mean point of impact” and “extreme killing range” to empathically explore the history of a dysfunctional family and the corrosive effects of masculinity. Weirdly touching, funny and strange, wrought from the language of violence, these startling original poems redeem and critique our gun obsessed society’s willing and unwilling victims with a dead-on, loaded, penetrating humor. ~Sarah C. Harwell


Weights of Gun Stocks


Jarvis, our child has not written since Zambesi. His letters are loaded with absurd ideas. Distorted. What if he is under abnormally severe strain? What on earth does he mean by “flip?” “Coefficient of steadiness?” “Killing circle?”

We must somehow get through to him, wherever he is, and encourage him that he’d do very well in the hands of a psychological expert.

What I would give to have my child home again, a child again, to see him through the window wearing his little British artilleryman jacket, playing in the yard with his balls and machine gun, his little cods and tubes, his axes and his knife— examining through a pocket lens the remains of a dead bird, his little cheeks discoloured by ammonium persulphate.



Sighting of Rifles at High Altitudes


Somebody squeezed my shoulder
in Zambesi.
Aren’t you Jarvis Burrows’
Yes, I said.
Major Sir Jarvis Burrows, Bt. D. S. O., R.F.A. (retired)?
Yes, I said.
The same Jarvis Burrows responsible for answering
questions about rifles, shotguns, and cartridges
addressed to In The Gunroom magazine?




The Extreme Killing Range of an Ordinary 12-Bore


For duck No. 5 or No. 6
is probably the best;
for teal either No. 7 or No. 8;
for snipe No. 8 or No. 9.

It can be a nuisance
to have to carry various different sizes
when a mixed bag is expected;
No. 6 will do quite well for both teal and snipe.

If the chances of duck, teal and snipe are about the same,
No. 7 is probably the best compromise.

There is the inexplicable fact:
a different bird always gets up
from that which is expected.

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