Sammie Downing



The Roar: a season when stags grow greater than they are. Throats fatten beneath bulging
beards. oh the smell of beast. they piss and roll in their own urine. fuck themselves,
rumble in cum. If it’s possible for words to imitate sounds then reek becomes an echo for
the way stags smell. Sweet carrion scent. There is a roar for every feeling.
Possessiveness: a great tumbling of thunder choking its way past esophagus, gargling on
tongue. Defense: a click, an alien’s vocal gesticulation.

If reek is a word that sounds the way stags smell, then male becomes a word that devours
an aura. When I say he reeks what I am really saying is: so heavy. so male. so rank.

He pops his head through the bush, misshapen antler. terrified eyes. a shot to the neck.
Sonic severing. torn threads whipping backwards and splitting ears. We come to him, still
twitching, legs flailing like a dreaming dog. this hunter. this man. he tells me not to
worry. nerves in the neck extend physicality of life long after animation has departed. But
as I watch his eyes water and piss trickle between his legs I think—this creature does not
look dead. This hunter says: sit back. enjoy it.

We set to slicing off his head. at the joint so there is no sound of crunching bone. yet
blood still flows and spurts like some 80’s horror film. like a fountain. like a joke. It is
my job to carry the skull up the hill. everywhere I feel watched. At the top, I raise his
bearded, dismembered head as my flag.

Overlooking sunset and fog the old man wants to take my picture. he asks me to pose. he
brought his own camera. especially for this. I don’t want to, I say. I only want to exist in
places I can control. And yet. I still feel myself flashed. come on, you’re beautiful. since
when has a picture hurt a woman like you?
I don’t move. I believe I can’t take myself back.

An old man and a young woman walk into the woods intent to kill something.
An old man and a young woman walk into the woods and something dies.

I wish I didn’t need a man
to teach me to cradle metal in my arms
to put his lips to my ear
and say “shoot”

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