Published on Academy of American Poets (

Dead Deer

Bolt, thwarted vault, late brake,
gasp of impact, temblor of thud—
the beast drops on the blade of hood,
ribs rip from their roots, hearts seize,
the windshield goes dark as an eyelid
curtaining to a horizon of blood,
black glass laced with lightning—

I am hit with wheel, steel, doe
embracing me backward as speed
crushes me forward into
a bursting hug, sternums to spines,

past last words,
no extra second to follow the plan to tell
God I am sorry, no foxhole repentance,
no appeal to the fate-maker,
my sentence incomplete, a fragment, a run-on,

no scenes spun out so fast
that the brain convulses with conclusion and love—

I do not even think of you,
cough no torn word for you to live by—

I mesh corpse into carcass,
I am dead, dear,
I leave you my velocity
and there at the edge of the road
I give you my fawn.


Copyright © 2016 by David Groff. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 5, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“Driving a Minnesota highway last summer, I had to swerve to avoid the fresh carcass of a doe. The car had gotten away; the deer had not. What would have happened if I’d reached this point on the road just minutes earlier, the moment the deer did?”
—David Groff


David Groff

David Groff is the author of Clay (Trio House Press, 2013) and Theory of Devolution (University of Illinois Press, 2002).

Date Published: 2016-10-05

Source URL: