Poem of the Week | May 04, 2020

This week’s Poem of the Week is “I Don’t Camp Well” by Laura Minor!

Laura Minor won the 2019 International Literary Awards, Rita Dove Poetry Award, chosen by Marilyn Nelson, the 2019 Sassaman Graduate Creative Writing Award, and the 2016 Emerging Writers Spotlight Award, chosen by poet D.A. Powell. She was a finalist for the 2019 National Poetry Series and nominated for a 2018 Pushcart Prize and Best New Poets 2018. She was named in the 2018 article, “10 Acclaimed FSU English Professors That Will Inspire You” by collegemagazine.com. Her poetry is forthcoming or has most recently appeared in the The Missouri Review, Barnhouse Journal, Quiddity International Literary Journal, PowderKeg Magazine, Arc Poetry Magazine, The American Poetry Journal, O: JA&L, Berfrois, and Queen Mob’s Tea House. She also has two poems forthcoming in the 2020 New River’s Press Anthology, “Wild Gods: The Ecstatic In Contemporary Poetry and Prose.” She was a Teacher’s College Fellow at Columbia University and the recipient of a Sarah Lawrence Poetry Award, chosen by Denise Duhamel, where she also received her M.F.A. She received her Ph.D. from Florida State University in 2019 where she currently resides as Visiting Teaching Faculty.

I Don’t Camp Well

You can’t reason with deer anymore than the sunlight.
Unafraid of me, they can’t be rushed away from their grazing
here with me watching behind the screen door of this cabin—

they make me want children
which makes me hate their faces,
their near-human eyes making me want
more from the potential of a home.

Even now, as the deer stand close enough
to kiss the jasmine bushes, the adults together,
and their fawn, knock-kneed in the fuzz of morning—

I want to stay inside the tent of my mind,
paint my nails black and make fun
of my friends that gleefully kayak—
stupid, noble crayons of the sea.


Once, when a boyfriend wanted to look
for the famed wild horses of Cumberland Island,
I wanted a different natural magic
away from the uniform confusion of coupling.

I left him standing in that field and found myself
caught between the warning grunt of a mama boar
and thirteen wild horses. I caught a milky yearling
with spots out of the right corner of my eye.

Coupling and terror are just two trees
in the same shallow water, roots comingled
with the sea level’s dooming groan, and me,
the lone, winsome variable of nature.


Author’s Note

I was at the Port Townsend Writers Conference and my colleagues went ahead of me to the evening’s reading. When I started to leave my cabin, the deer family happened to come within a few feet of me, which reminded me of the Cumberland Island story, and then how another partner was hit by a deer while riding the switchbacks around L.A., and the list goes on. I don’t like the thought of a wildlife attack, alone or with someone, so I sat back down to write the first draft from behind the screen door while I was deciding if I could eek around them to the path down the hill. The draft became a bit neurotic as I recollected every historical attempt at settling for a version of monogamy I wasn’t suited for and how it involved a wildlife scare, which to me was funny, so I kept going. Now, it makes me smile because I eventually scurried along the walls of uncertainty until I landed somewhere safer, much like a relationship. It’s good to be able to laugh at yourself and create something as you confront your legitimate fears.