Deer Headed Kings

7 Abernathy illo

Tanner S. Abernathy

Deer Headed Kings


On clear evenings

up the forest trails

winding out a valley

are the tombs of the Deer Headed Kings.


Tonight the moon rises behind a red maple.

Tonight the stars bathe the air in stellar light.

In a clearing of pine needles and leaves

a great stone slab slides across the brush,

a torch’s glow

reveals a steep staircase.


The Deer Headed Kings climb up from a dark crypt

and step with bare black feet upon the snow.


Treetops bend away from sky

and these antler-crowned lords,

with dim and eager eyes,

trace the sky for symbols and signs

of their families and homes.


They wrap robes around themselves, shivering in the cold.

Their great pronged racks glisten

like frost-frozen jewels and gems

on once royal diadems.


Their crowns match the reaching arms

of the trees.


A disturbed mutter; the chatter of teeth.


“Not tonight,” one says.


“The stars are getting quieter,” says another.


“We must try again, we must.”


The Deer Headed Kings turn

and in the torch’s dimming light

march back down the gray stone stairs

to the place where they rest and pray

that stars will soon give reason

to leave the forest…


before Deer Hunting season.


Tanner S. Abernathy is a writer and youth mentor living in Bellingham, Washington. His poetry has appeared on display at the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest reading. He organizes local art shows and poetry readings for his community hosted in his home.



Editor’s Notes: Though not necessarily associated with this poem, Cernunnos is a mythological figure in Celtic mythology, possibly one of the figures depicted on the Gundestrup cauldron. He has deer or stag antlers on the top of his head [adapted from Wikipedia].

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