The Only Tavern in Hyde, Wisconsin | wisconsinacademy.org
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The Only Tavern in Hyde, Wisconsin

First Place – 2010 Poetry Contest

When I walked into the forest
of camouflage, faces turned,
gleaming through the leaves
like tin plates hung
amongst trees for targets.

In a moment of silence,
the eyes darted birdlike
measuring what had wandered in.

Then the forest broke apart
into forms, voices, hands
emerged holding bottles,
bodies lumbered toward the bar,
wreathed by smoke
like a forest restless with fire.

And the tree-sized men
turned back to their game
of euchre, torsos thick as trunks,
arms the breadth of branches,
fingers splayed twiglike
holding their cards like leaves,
which they turned as if acting
out autumn.

And then I noticed
on every wall
the heads of deer,
their glass eyes staring
through years of dust
at the men who had killed them.

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Austin Smith grew up on a family dairy farm in northwestern Illinois. He received a BA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an MA from the University of California-Davis, and an MFA from the University of Virginia.

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