So much depends on
a dead deer with a bloody mouth
dumped in a wheelbarrow
beside a grinning boy in orange.
He is quickly covered in adulation
and balloons. Nothing –
fighting fires in California, carrying water
to Flint – could earn him such praise,
the instant status of “man.”
I shake the confetti from my hair, take
a deep breath and a risk: “This hurts me,
makes me sad.” The counter-attack
is swift: Beauty is in my plate,
not in the forest.
The thoughtful ones say,
the bullet is kinder than death
by car or coyote. This is true of course,
at least when the shooter is skilled. But then,
I don’t want to see gloating photos
of roadkill either, or predators set
on deer for human entertainment.
Someone posts a CGI, a dancing doe
on her hind legs, waggling her rump
at the hunters. “Come and get me!”
She asked for it. Flashing those big eyes,
those slender legs, running away from me.
“Eat the heart first,” they advise each other,
an atavism that makes me shudder.
They look over at me, mouths and hands bloody,
and I feel the claws spreading my ribs,
the teeth in my chest.
Cheryl Caesar lived in Paris, Tuscany and Sligo for 25 years; she earned her doctorate in comparative literature at the Sorbonne and taught literature and phonetics. She now teaches writing at Michigan State University. She gives frequent readings locally. Since January, she has published political protest poems in Writers Resist, The Mark Literary Review, Agony Opera and Nationalism, a Zimbabwean anthology; and other poetry in Cream and Crimson, Total Eclipse, Prachya Review, The Trinity Review, The Mojave River Review, Panoply and Winedrunk Sidewalk. When it’s all too much, she escapes in books, cats and Michigan lakes. She dreams of swimming in an infinity pool of warm salt water, as she once did in Palermo.