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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

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.

Marcus Wicker

Marcus Wicker

Marcus Wicker is the author of Silencer (Mariner Books, 2017). He teaches at the University of Memphis.

by this poet

poem
Grant me shelter & bread.
Grant me porch ledge, mantel.
Scented candles, bed. Grant me
four walls, a 5-foot fridge & a hall.
& maybe four more walls. Yes.
Four more walls. & a desk. & 
a decent laptop, plus pleather
rolling
poem
Too late—the path to righteousness gone cold
& everywhere a forked tongue, split road
                                                                dividing line—
toward, away, toward—the divine, unraveling like anise, black
poem
& anyway, what good is the metronomic
one-note canon two house sparrows cant
aloft, between, the pine privacy fence,
if not to simulate estrangement?
 
Watching them watching me, I think,
First impressions are so medieval. O, to be
the provincial drawbridge damming
a ramshackle interior, or the
2