As I Clean My Rifle

J.B. Stevens

I’m still tired from that last patrol

The quiet holds me,

And the flow state hits.

I could do this in my sleep—

Zen through rifle disassembly,

A blindfold party trick that no one cares about.

The warm embrace of CLP,


Cleaning, lubricating, protecting—a wondrous product—

The smell knocks and I spit out the taste of

Sand, and IED aftershocks rattle in my chest.


I loved my M4,

And I love my AR15. Mine.

Ecstasy through reassembly.


The dry heat comes and the never-

Ending exhaustion. I’m still tired from that last patrol;

I always will be—a problem that no one cares about.

The last patrol. An existence no one cares about.



✽ ✽ ✽ 


J.B. Stevens lives in the Southeastern United States with his wife and daughter. He was nominated for the Pushcart Prize for poetry, was a finalist for the Killer Nashville Claymore award, and won Mystery Tribune’s inaugural micro-fiction contest.His poetry chapbook All the Violent Memories is being released in March 2021, his short story collection A Therapeutic Death is being released in October 2021—both from Close to The Bone publishing. He is a veteran of the Iraq war where he earned a Bronze Star. Prior to the war, he was an undefeated Mixed Martial Arts Fighter. J.B. graduated from The Citadel.