He was pretty sure it stopped being a mule deer the moment

it was shot, and that each moment since had changed

it into something else. By the time it had been dragged

down to the truck, one side had all the hair sheared off,


and the hide, now smooth and white, showed the kill shot

on that side that had pierced a lung. He also found the first

shot that had passed cleanly through the neck and meant

tracking the animal through the scrub oak, following bright


red drops on the fallen leaves, hoping to find it before the crows

and coyotes could. When the creature weakened and slowed,

at last, they got their second shot, and this time he saw

the whole body collapse like an inflatable toy. He had looked


away for a time while his father cut the carcass open,

chest to tail, but turned back in time to see the open cavity,

entrails spilling onto the ground. He was told to kick them 

into the bushes and then hold the forelegs together so a rope


could be wound around them and through the antlers.

He thought the black tongue looked like a cartoon,

the way it lolled from one side of the mouth. At home

his father strung up the remains from the rafters in the cool


garage where it would age for a day or two before the hide

was stripped  away, meat separated from bone with a large knife,

his father moving with purpose and surprising speed, sweating

even in the chill, pausing only briefly, once, to hand his son a freshly


butchered shoulder, smear a line of blood under each wide

eye, then tell the boy to roar like an animal so he could snap

a picture for Instagram. Otherwise, the purple meat disappeared

quickly into stiff butcher-paper packages and then into


the freezer, neatly stacked, until, one or two at a time, they were

removed, contents breaded and fried in a skillet with butter

and onions, marinated in beer and roasted, or hidden in a stew,

his mother doing her best to work the last of the wildness out.



If you crawl under the front porch way back into the crawl space under the pilings where the world becomes Miss Havisham’s with spider webs thick as lace curtains and compound fractures of rebar poking through here and there like stick furniture last used for sandwiches and tea by suitors long gone and then make your way over the moonscape of scrap cement the old Viceroy cigarette packs glass marbles and bird bones cached there by generations of rats and raccoons then further back to the far southeast corner beneath the kitchen just above and should you put your ear against the floorboards you really can hear the hum of the Frigidaire keeping pork chops cool until dinner keeping ice cubes stiff in their rows and if it’s five o’clock almost any day or make it four-thirty just to be sure you will hear her drop ice into a thick glass and maybe it’s imagination or one of the wild toms hissing at me as his eyes go yellow in the dark but I think I can hear her sigh after lifting the glass to her lips almost see her close her eyes her face going slack as the joists and floorboards the bearing walls the very house settles around her.


Wade lives, teaches, an writes in Salt Lake City. For a good time, he enjoys wandering the Wasatch Mountains and playing with his grandchildren. His poems have appeared in Green Mountain Review, Cimarron Review, Best New Poets, New Ohio Review, Western Humanities Review, Rattle, Chicago Quarterly Review, Raleigh Review, Reunion: The Dallas Review, Pembroke Magazine, and New Orleans Review, among others. A collection of his poems, What Is Mine, was published by Aldrich Press in 2015.