In autumn, the men hang deer

Upside down from the barn rafters.

Run their knives the whole length

Of the belly then barrel-hoop their arms

And yank out the guts like a sack of potatoes.

Their eyes tear from the smell

And blood drips down onto newspapers.

Laughing, drinking, talking

Late into the night, they gather around the animal,

Its eyes blank as bullets, the tongue

A pink glove in its mouth,

The lip curled as if to speak.


One of the sons, rubbing the soft curve

Of the deer’s ear, asks questions

About death, and once again,

They all huddle about the moonlit dark

With the same sacred lies,

Doomed creatures themselves, afraid to flinch.




Photo by Alexander von Halem