Bill Carty

Deer Stream



A programmer copy/pastes

an indestructible buck

onto our screens, and lucky us,

we have toned, cervine gluteobiceps

to occupy our eyes. We, like, realized

to replace human with deer


is to replace the whole

human. Virtually.

Virtually as in near to,

as proximity blesses belief,

as I just missed you this afternoon,

which trended with promise,


but ends in this knock-off handbag

of an evening, which is to say

we’ve already seen this sunset,

felt it work its invisible efficacies.

How we want to want:

with indiscriminate energy,


to need and need dearly, say,

the satchel’s precise silhouette

of Vermont country barn,

golden zipper teeth and


all caps across ample folds


of tenebrous leather,

a whole night’s bondage,

perhaps. Not that we

kept up appearances, knowing

it’s not money spent, per se,

but attitude of spending;


the deer feels immortal

is what matters.

Just think: some creatures

do what they want,

not what floats into view.

When you put your world


together, how is it finding

you’ve elected so few

of the feelings? Is this

what thirty-one was like?

I can hardly remember.

If it happened only once,


as ages must, I retain none of it.

On the screen’s simulated Los Angeles

you might find one good conversation

but forget to exchange names.

You return to the café,

but you aren’t looking for the person.


You look for what you left there:

a name. Later, in a world

of limitless digital possibility,

you have to choose what your car

says about you. Or to not

have a car, which means cash


in the purse, means having to steal

a lift, occasionally.

Look at this animal: what seems

intrinsically human in its eye

is merely rent-to-own,

dilation of any mammal


caught wanting.

For a moment, there’s

peace in the blind. Tonight,

how about quiet

isn’t stewing. How about

the first one to shout






Do you not think this is ominous of good?




Maybe clouds in the east

are past weather, ancient

Greek, obscure products

of telemetry needing

to become clear signal.

They are just clouds

copying how clouds looked

when they approached

from the west and were

younger, possibly prodigal,

they lent auspicious

shade to the meadow.

Tonight, I stand before

a mine shaft, this

deduction of hillside.

Pills lend a lavender light,

and lavender has a little pluck to it.

But you know this.

You have seen these vessels

yourself. That’s the point

of shipbuilding. The vessel. The end.



Poet Bill Carty author photo

Originally from coastal Maine, BILL CARTY lives in Seattle, WA. He has received poetry fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Artist Trust, the Richard Hugo House, the Sorting Room, and Jack Straw. He is the author of Huge Cloudy (forthcoming from Octopus Books) and the chapbook Refugium (Alice Blue Books). His poems have recently appeared (or will soon) in the Boston Review, Ploughshares, The Iowa Review, Willow Springs, Conduit, Poetry Northwest, Pleiades, the Volta, Oversound, Sixth Finch, and other journals. He is an editor at Poetry Northwest.