The Bullet Guys and Me

Merna Dyer Skinner

I once showed oilmen how to brighten their sheen—
           taught nicotine pushers 
                    tricks to blow smoke.
The stench of compromise 
     for cash, or first-class flights
                                                          like a shroud.
When mass shootings began,
     bullet makers selling cop-killer ammo
                                                            hired me. 
        Find the angle, they said. 
                       Shareholders, Profit Margins.
And, there it was: Ethos staring me down—again.                                  

The guys and me,
      we scribbled on white boards 
tossed words around—     
                                   one potato   two potato…       
I kept them what-if-ing   perhaps-ing 
                 one indefensible angle after another
until the cinderblock room grew cold,
                                         minds numbed,
and the bullet guys came to the just conclusion—    
         producing armor-piercing ammo. 

 Competitors saw the opening to grab
        market share—hired a different image guy—
transformed their bird-of-prey logo into pastel-shaded bull’s-eyes. 
    Sales, they promised, would hit every targetMaybe more...