The flesh of a summer buck in the stew

on the stove of my father’s drinking buddy


gives off a scent of pain fused with cloves

like a hint of red wine that burns residually


or a bruise found next day upon waking.

I close my eyes and feel the hairline fracture


of morning dew cold in the pretty buck’s lungs,

the dirt pasty and black in the dingle beside a stream


as the candelabra of antlers rakes the air.

When my name is called like the bone bead


of an abacus pushed against its row, I enter

the room of plaid-shirted men — overweight


and unshy, they laugh with bottles of beer

like green cocks in their hands. And then


my father, drowning beneath the glass leaves

of the chandelier, recounts the kill.



Gary is a lawyer and writer. Recent work can be found in such places as Cumberland River Review, Gargoyle, Posit, and Thrush. He lives in San Francisco.