Three poems by Nancy Scott

Leo and the Deer Meat

His freezer’s stuffed with packs of deer meat.
On the first day of bow hunting season
he says he’s out before dawn.

How many kills does it take to fill a freezer?
Changing the subject, he says, Is a beer okay?
Somehow we end up in bed. It’s easier

to forget the deer with the lights off.
He says he never let the deer bleed out;
he’d follow the blood trail and take the deer

down with a well-aimed arrow.
I’m upset he shares this, until he tells me
his wife insisted that nobody in their house

was going to eat Bambi. Shortly after that
she ran off with her therapist, leaving behind
a son, a daughter, and a full freezer.

The children complain there’s no room
in the freezer to store ice cream or popsicles.
One Sunday afternoon he offers to make me

venison stew with red currant jelly and bacon.
It’s tasty, no fat. I cook it until it’s tender.
I see the wounded deer collapse.

Let’s go out, I say. I feel like Chinese.
Over chow mein we run out of conversation.
I heard he died a few years back.

First appeared in US1 Worksheets

 

Burnt Toast

When Bliss and I arrived at her cabin on one of the Finger Lakes,
Ellen invited us to stay as long as we liked, but insisted on
doing the cooking. Not wanting to be rude, we ate the burnt toast
and the mystery stew she’d simmer for hours.

You could adjust the heat on the toaster, we suggested,
believing our earnestness might persuade Ellen to do just that.
You’re right, she agreed, as she scraped the burnt off today’s
cold toast, charred bits littering the floor like dead bugs.

Bliss was a vegetarian, assumed whatever was in the stew
must have come from her garden. One drizzly morning,
Ellen swept up the bugs and put on Wellingtons and a poncho.
Going to check the traps, she said. Never mentioned them before.

Bliss rolled his eyes, but we kept silent―better not to ask
what she hoped to snare. Ellen worked in town, so for two months
we’d slept in, listened to Coldplay, got high, sometimes walked
along the lake until even awesome scenery became an eyesore.

Worse yet, our stash was nearly gone. The idea that Bliss and I
might be eating possum or skunk or god-knows-what was enough
to convince us it was time to leave. That night thankfully no stew―
the traps must have been empty. We told Ellen we’d landed a gig

in Buffalo. Safe travel, she said. The next day she handed us
a loaf of freshly baked bread, yeasty and warm. We trekked
several miles to the highway. With no idea which direction to go,
we unwrapped the bread and ate the whole loaf, every crumb.

First appeared in US1 Worksheets

 

The Awesome Wind, Northern California, 2017

Our world’s on fire. The wind blusters across
the countryside, taunting us to fear its awesome
power, sparks the ember, turns everything to char.

Fire lives inside the tree, hollows out the core.
A squirrel clings to a branch. We watch as fire
inhales, then spits out fur and bone. No relief

until the wind calms and fire sates its hunger.
The sky is not a sky we’ve ever known. Ash rains
down spectral and acrid. We can hardly breathe.

First appeared in Exit 13

 

Nancy Scott is the author of 10 books of poetry and two novels. For many years she was managing editor of US1 Worksheets. Her work has appeared in various journals and anthologies including Misfit Magazine, Edison Review, Kelsey Review, and Journal of New Jersey Poets. A social worker for the State of New Jersey, she memorialized her work in many of her poems. She is also a collage artist and has exhibited her works in many juried shows. More at http://www.nancyscott.net

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