Coyote Mercury

words, birds and whatever else by James Brush

Tag: coyotes

sometimes coyotes

sometimes there are coyotes
all around the house

they bed down in the front yard
in the trees and behind my memories

asleep with one eye open, stars
twirl the pole counted and known

they’ll rise and howl at owls, the moon
or anyone else impersonating

strangers who come up to the yard
they stalk a defensive perimeter

while we sleep while we dream
they open the fridge and eat

the last of the girl scout cookies
a little whipped cream for their coffee

come morning they’ve gone, a few
paw prints in the dewy grass


Not a Literary Journal: Ode to an Animal | PAD 11: Defensive Poem

Coyote’s Bone

There’s a cracked old deer bone
in a small field by the stream.
It’s been there for years
and every few months or so,
it moves a few feet. Maybe
a season goes by and it’s buried
in the grass and wildflowers, but
when autumn comes again,
the bone resurfaces like driftwood
from an ocean turning brown.
I wonder what coyote picks it up
only to spit it out a few steps later.
After the bleached taste
of years and sun-dried blood
on brittle bone, does he go
to the stream to drink away
the taste or let it linger, a reminder
of all the songs he still can sing?

Navajo Country, 1996

Cars were rare along the highway
On that day of dusty miles.
You came up a ridge behind us to
Observe our passing.
Through the rearview, we watched you
Emerge, then fade back into the desert.

This is a response to Read Write Poems’ NaPoWriMo #27: Let Someone Else Take the Lead wherein Carolee invites writers to do an acrostic poem. I’ve never done one before, but figured I would need a short word for today and so I went with coyote, a favorite animal that I’ve heard far more often than seen. This poem is about the first time I saw one.

Though I’ve missed a few days of posting due to internet issues, I’ve been writing and back-posting what I wrote those days here and at a gnarled oak.


After days on the road, Robbie ran out of numbers for counting road signs and clouds, which was fine since he’d already counted all of them anyway. He switched to counting things that weren’t there and ticked imaginary numbers off in his head whenever he didn’t see something.

He thought he didn’t see a motorcycle but the absence was only a mirage, he realized when a black-clad biker gang rumbled past, stirring the desert to thunderous life before returning to the kind of silence that inspired Robby to consider counting things he didn’t hear as well as things unseen.

He thought he didn’t hear a coyote, so he eased his pickup off the highway to make sure the animal wasn’t there before adding it to his tally. Robby was scrupulously honest with himself about all things and wanted to ensure the accuracy of his count especially since the coyote, if it wasn’t there, would be the 500ith item on his list.

When he stepped out of his truck, the wind tore at his hair and clawed his jacket. He looked around trying to see if there was nothing there to count, but the desert, much to Robby’s disappointment, was full of things and besides he wanted that coyote to be the 500ith thing that wasn’t there. Nearly i0 hours from the road, he didn’t see the coyote, which wasn’t sitting in a three-legged chair. He resisted the urge to count the chair’s missing leg.

He approached iCoyote slowly and knelt before his absence, staring up at the thin clouds in the sky where iCoyote’s head would have been.

“I thought I’d be able to see you,” Robbie whispered, his voice nearly lost in the wind as he added iCoyote to his tally.

“Divide out the i’s,” iCoyote didn’t say.

Robbie thought back to half-remembered math classes, wondered if i worked like a variable, could be solved like x. “I’d have to do that to both sides of the equation, wouldn’t I?” Robby asked and noticed that he’d lifted his hands like an equal sign between them. “To balance it out, right?”

iCoyote didn’t say, “You’ll get your proof.”

Robbie divided out the i and saw the coyote grinning at him from the chair. The coyote hopped down, walked through Robbie as if he were a mere fraction reduced to the lowest terms of what he had been, and trotted off in the direction of Robbie’s truck.

Robbie looked around and saw all the things that weren’t there. He subtracted frantically, his list cratering before his open eyes. In the distance, he didn’t hear his engine start and he didn’t hear it drive down the highway without him.

This is a response to Read Write Poem prompt #111, a picture of a guy kneeling in front of an empty three-legged chair. It’s a remarkable photo.

I never know what to label stuff like this. Short story? Flash fiction? Prose poem? Prose poem feels right since that’s the intention I started with.

I have no idea if I got the math right. As with Robbie, my math classes were a long time ago.

Be sure to read what others did with this prompt.

Coyote Sticks It to The Man

In the interest of promoting all things coyote, I offer a recent discovery: a legal brief regarding a lawsuit brought by Wile E Coyote against Acme:

Mr. Coyote states that on eighty-five separate occasions, he has purchased of the Acme Company (hereinafter, ‘Defendant’), through that company’s mail order department, certain products which did cause him bodily injury due to defects in manufacture or improper cautionary labeling. Sales slips made out to Mr. Coyote as proof of purchase are at present in the possession of the Court, marked Exhibit A. Such injuries sustained by Mr. Coyote have temporarily restricted his ability to make a living in the profession of predator. Mr. Coyote is self-employed and thus not eligible for Workmen’s Compensation.

Mr. Coyote states that on December 13th, he received of Defendant via parcel post one Acme Rocket Sled. The intention of Mr. Coyote was to use the Rocket sled to aid him in pursuit of his prey. Upon receipt of the Rocket Sled, Mr. Coyote removed it from its wooden shipping crate and sighting his prey in the distance, activated the ignition. As Mr. Coyote gripped the handlebars, the Rocket Sled accelerated with such sudden and precipitate force as to stretch Mr. Coyote’s forelimbs to a length of fifteen feet. Subsequently, the rest of Mr. Coyote’s body shot forward with a violent jolt, causing severe strain to his back and neck and placing him unexpectedly astride the Rocket Sled. Disappearing over the horizon at such speed as to leave a diminishing jet trail along its path, the Rocket Sled soon brought Mr. Coyote abreast of his prey. At that moment, the animal he was pursuing veered sharply to the right. Mr. Coyote vigorously attempted to follow this maneuver but was unable to, due to poor design and engineering on the Rocket Sled and a faulty or non-existent steering system. Shortly thereafter, the unchecked progress of the Rocket Sled led it and Mr. Coyote into collision with the side of a mesa.

– Ian Frazier, The New Yorker Magazine, 26 February 1990

Check out the whole thing. It’s a funny bit of satire, and one more reason to root for Coyote. Not only is he unable to get Road Runner, he’s a victim of the Corporate Man.

Oh, and apparently, he did catch Road Runner…

This Post Isn’t Here

See my post at In the Pink Texas: Coyotes Blamed in Chupacabra Cover-Up

A Mercurial Coyote

As one might guess from the title of this blog, I like coyotes. Yes, yes, it’s true. I never rooted for the roadrunner, though I like them too.

Though I prefer old coyote stories in the Native American trickster tradition or even the Western tall-tale genre, I like a modern coyote story as well so needless to say, this story caught my eye:

Employees and customers at a downtown Chicago Quiznos sandwich shop were stunned to see a coyote walk through the propped-open front door Tuesday afternoon and lie down in a cooler stocked with fruit juice and soda.

So fruit juice and soda? I figured he’d go straight for the roasted roadrunner on rosemary parmesan (ten times as fast as you can).

Assuming he’s uninjured and healthy, he’ll be released to the wild where he will promptly order an Acme anvil, Acme Quiznos employee disguise suit, and Acme deli meat slicer in order to build a fiendishly complicated Quiznos invasion device.

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