By William Aarnes

Driving home
with no trophy to show
for his weekend away,

he pulls over,
a deer-crossing sign
well within the reach
of his dimmed headlights.
He loads his rifle
and steadies the head
of the leaping buck
in his sights.

he says—its shoulder grazed.
“Damn”—a bullet hole
beneath its belly.
“Damn”—the sign missed

Then he waits

and fires again—
through the neck.

He drives away,
feeling no better,
no worse.

Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington

William Aarnes has published two collections with Ninety-Six Press—Learning to Dance (1991) and Predicaments (2001)—and a third collection, Do in Dour, from Aldrich Press (2016). He has had poems published in FIELD, The Southern Review, The American Scholar, and Poetry.