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Deer Ode, Tangled & Horned

Recorded as part of the Poem-a-Day series, October 14, 2015
About this Poem 

“Originally, ‘Deer Ode, Tangled & Horned’ was ‘Saltlick Ode,’ a failed poem I began at the Cave Canem writers retreat  seven years ago. Hanging in my parents’ backyard this summer, I saw the scene depicted in stanza one, three days before realizing what I was really writing about back then.”
Marcus Wicker

Deer Ode, Tangled & Horned

Marcus Wicker

Always the sun first
then the doe sunning, the stag
running toward the doe, wherein

this ramshackle causality
a taste for flesh buds
at birth—when mouth clasps

to breast—quieting
the gut’s ache, not hunger
for touch. If you don’t believe

touch is a famine
fed by need, in another
scene, see an orphaned fawn

bow before a block of salt
crowned on the lone stump
in a clearing where sudden

wind has instructed him
in a lick’s dripping scent.
Right. Now, who then

betrays his permanence
but the huntsmen—
himself? Who then but palette—

appetite’s kissing cousin, driven
only by science of nature—
O Desire, you mother—

You Adam
of the valley, crouched
with a catcher’s mitt

always signaling for the quince
to roll downhill. You’re not much
of a nurturer from behind

this rifle scope,
especially on nights when
I am Lot’s hermaphrodite wife—

all pillar
& looking back
on my downfall from the future

which is surely paradise
or purgatory, depending
on how I decipher my scripture, O

Desire, if you’re a Catholic’s
Tree of Life I must be Buddhist-
free. I’m not interested

in you for the progeny
so much as your skyscraping—
your telephone poles—miraculous,

glazed, glistening with December’s
beckoning slick—crisscrossed
with tiny horizontal beams, wired-

horizon & morning dew,
forming, Dear Sire,
your anointing—this

intimately connected rosary
I can’t help but prick
my tongue to.

Copyright © 2015 by Marcus Wicker. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 14, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2015 by Marcus Wicker. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 14, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.