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Three poems by Benjamin Cutler

The Boy Who Hunts

out of season tells me

the fatty meat behind a deer’s eye,

if eaten raw and right

after the kill, tastes 

like dough—and he laughs 

when he says it: The doe

tastes like dough. I believe

him—believe his tongue

knows the salty and shapeless 

taste of uncooked bread,

and his young trigger-

calloused fingers the slick

release of a dead eye 

pried from a still-warm socket 

that would have held it well

to see another waking

spring, through summer’s green

abundance, into the treacherous fall. 


This boy who hunts

out of season tells me he leaves

the body where it lies

to bloat like a yeasted loaf,

and I believe him—believe 

he knows nothing

of the full and warm flavor 

of patience; nothing 

of any season save his own

hard and violent weather;

nothing of living, 

gentle eyes

and the sweetness 

that rises behind them.

Should you depart in the morning,

your boots’ crunch 

along your blood-

kin’s secret trail 

will send the cottontails 

bounding into the brambles.

Mind their fear only a little, 

only enough to remember 

you mean no harm

until you enter the dawn-

fogged creek. A warning:

root and rock will break 

your ankle with no thought 

toward justice—or mercy. 

Wade carefully. Present 

gently. Remember: you are

not here. Keep the line 

slack, keep the line 

tight, wait for the brook

trout to rise like water’s

lightning to your offering.

Lift. Hold. Pull. Grip

lightly with wet hands 

until the harm is done—

so little harm, 

you will tell yourself,

such bright beauty,

you will tell yourself—

and release. Return home

by nightfall. Notice,

as you walk the darkened 

path, the bat circling, sightless, 

diving for waking moths;

notice the grace—notice

this swift and fearless art.

An Interruption 

I close the book written with breath

and open it again. I belong to this gravity 

that sends the letter-thin moth—

too raptured by light to be tethered 

by these pages—down to my breast where skin 

ebbs and eddies. As always, the shimmering


dark fish of my heart rises 

like a loosed ribbon of shadow from her lonely 

chamber and sips this floating whisper 

of a winged body—a delicate new sacrament—

into her silent mouth then returns to her shade- 

blooded pool where she waits—    

still—for the gift of another fallen word.

Benjamin Cutler is an award-winning poet and author of the full-length book of poetry, The Geese Who Might be Gods (Main Street Rag, 2019). His poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize numerous times and has appeared in Cold Mountain Review, EcoTheo Review, The Carolina Quarterly, and The Lascaux Review, among many others. In addition, Benjamin is a high-school English teacher in the Southern Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina where he lives with his family and frequents the local rivers and trails.

Three poems by Benjamin Cutler
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