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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 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017). He lives in Lansing, Michigan.

by this poet

poem

I was a real cute kid. Ask anybody. My father
likes to tell a story about a modeling scout

who spotted us out midday shopping
at the Briarwood Mall. Imagine five-year-old me,

all sailor stripes & junior afro, doing a full pull-up
on the magazine kiosk: Got any Keats? No doubt

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