The Hunted & The Haunted

Visiting into the night, a dog found a buck
sprawled onto the back porch of her home,
lung pierced and bubbling a thick stripe onto its side.
A creature of this type usually dies in the woods.
Something about the leaves: they dance a soul to sleep.

Yet, somehow, this hulk of hide had found
a wooden deck in the crevice of West Virginia
more fitting for its gentle exit. Under a broken porch light,
the poodle sniffed to learn what creature had become
unraveled, its fierce antlers gestured to a distant moon.

And she stood by the heap of breathing; tail immobile,
perhaps in reverence, as the deer’s muscles began to loosen,
poised for a stiffening. She lowered her fluffed head,
ears up to the softening rattle of the buck’s last, tilting nod.
Should she bark?

The next morning, the poodle nudged the youngest of her family
outside to the deer—whose languid coat had, by then,
become an absent warmth, hushed of wilderness and stale
with a leafy stare. The girl retrieved a squirt gun,
then called to her mother for a picture.


Daniel Lassell is the winner of a William J. Maier Writing Award and runner-up for the 2016 Bermuda Triangle Prize. His poetry can be found or is forthcoming in Connotation Press, Hotel Amerika, Slipstream, Rust + Moth, and elsewhere. Recently, he received a Pushcart nomination from Pembroke Magazine. He lives in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Photo by Austin Lassell