Delany Lemke

small town ses-teen-a

The bored nights take us teens out to Lost Deer Lane

where the ticks will not twist off our hot blood
once they get a hold. We drink polluted river water
and cheap vodka mixed in old bottles from the floor of the car,
sneak past the house on the corner by turning off the headlights
and snake down the dirt road where street lamps don’t shine.

Sometimes, we drive out there because someone took a shine
to us, wanted to lock lips in the backseat on Lost Deer Lane
a dead end road where we know there won’t be any headlights
and when we lean in, gorge on the feel of skin, all the blood
rushes to the cheeks, our bodies revving and rolling like cars.
Other nights a handful of us cram in to smoke out of a water

bottle and a pen. Usually we park and then ask what are
we doing here? It’s been a long year, little sunshine
and we keep ending up bored at midnight and in cars
driving back roads and winding our way to Lost Deer Lane
like it called us, like the gravel worked its way into our blood.
The town’s already infecting our dizzy heads. Light

conversation makes our heads ache like headlights
in the eyes. So we pull at our vodka and river water
for something to do. There’s something metal like blood
in the drink, probably from the factories that shine
all night on the river. Two of our classmates were lain
to rest this year; someone always drowns or crashes a car.

Funny, how we cope by climbing right back  into our cars
with a bit of liquor, near blind without our headlights
when we sneak ourselves down the dirt on Lost Deer Lane,
a bunch of reckless kids lost in the backwater
midwest, where there’s not much to outshine
but the moon and the river tastes like blood.

We can ignore that, there’s always blood.
Our uncles bring home deer on top of their cars
and we’re used to gutting, the slick shine
of insides. Deer that get caught in headlights,
smash windshields, then wait on the asphalt under rainwater
until the highway technician hauls them out of the lane.

We can only imagine a shine that’s not blood
out on Lost Deer Lane, drinking together in our cars,
or we end up imagining what our headlights look like underwater.

A poem in which I try to talk about being queer in the rural midwest and I just end up talking about deer again

You don’t know how to feel about us
trotting around your mown lawn
ravaging sweet wet apples off your tree.
We lock antlers, raise a clatter in the wood,
agitate your family dog to fits of barking,
gnaw on your juniper bushes, garden violets.
We see your chicken wire fences, your garden
coated in hot sauce and sick fermented yolks.
We’re the kind of beautiful that gets shot down.
You forgot that we have been here
since the eocene. Clothing you, feeding you.
We’re in your myths, shadows in the trees,
and after this long dead winter, our hunger
will not be kept hidden in birch and pine.

Delany Lemke is a queer poet in her first year of her MFA at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. She is originally from Marysville, Michigan, and received her undergraduate degree from Central Michigan University. Her poetry has been featured in Juxtaprose, Temenos, and 30 N. You can find updates on her life and poetry, her thoughts and pictures of her cat at @delovelylany on Twitter.

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