Mikhail Kalashnikov never imagined his weapon would be fired beyond Russian borders. In 1941, the young Soviet soldier wanted to invent a gun that could repel Germans from Russian soil. But the AK-47 was far too popular to stay domesticated. Russian manufacturers produced 70 million machine guns, many of which fell into the eager hands of soldiers, rebels, and terrorists around the globe. If we were to include the number of illegal counterfeits on the market today, that number is closer to 100 million. It is the most recognizable weapon since the spear. Years later, Kalashnikov expressed disbelief that the AK-47 ran amok in our tattered world. Perhaps he longed for an earlier time when the former peasant aimed for artistic pursuits. . . like poetry.
Apparently the Russian hero has published six books. Admirers have even contributed poetry in his honor. Some defend the deadly purpose of his creation. Others fire witty barbs at Kalashnikov, such as the poem which notes the gun inventor, far wealthier than Russia’s best poets, “has out there several million of his namesakes.”