I Thought We Were Hunting Elk by Brian Jerrold Koester

Eric taught me on the spot
to wear brush, but not too much,
to wear greasepaint even on my hands.

The only way you’ll have a chance
is if you do a really good job.

He told me we were leaving our guns
in the old Chevy land yacht,
then took his.

He said the only way out
was to take the car and back it up,
but he’d be behind it.

Brothers.

I sat silent on a stump
in a weedy Siskiyou clearcut
and watched Eric walk away

running on about how I’d have to drift
slowly like a ghost

not to get spotted
and he’d better not see me running.

He said if I could make it to the car
and drive away without him seeing me
I’d be home free.

He came with his gun ready
and looked right through me twice
from a python’s length away
and passed close enough
to pounce on.

He heard my laugh come from the earth
and it shook him.
It rolled onto him from the sky
like dust from a dirt road.

Eric didn’t come for me with a gun again
for a good three years.


Brian Jerrold Koester holds an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars. He is a Best of the Net Anthology nominee. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Agni, HeartWood, The Delmarva Review, Right Hand Pointing, Peacock Journal, Poetry Pacific, Louisiana Literature Journal, and elsewhere. He hopes never again to live in a haunted house.

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