They used to hunt them in Wyoming 75 bucks a pelt.
Dad and I met one guy used a helicopter,
chasing them across the sage red dirt high arid prairies,
loaded pistol in his lap. That high dry basin, red desert,
no way for water to get out, continental divide came down
split right around its rim both sides and went on south.
Any rain fell there didn't go atlantic or pacific,
just stayed. Few alkali lakes, far out from the freeway
and town, we used to go out looking wild horses,
scarred studs, mares with look-alike foals, sneak in close
for an hour or so then one wrong sound
they'd run, manes and hock-length tails streaming,
lean muscles working their dirty coats, pound
up a ridge and away followed by their dust
and silence. Antelope shared the water, too,
orange and white with dark black eyes and horns and hoofs.
Used to count them as we drove the interstate rolling desert,
hundreds in dozens of little herds, keep a running tally
on the back of an old envelope. Hundreds.
But we'd only see a coyote every once in awhile,
trotting across the desert, head down, or standing still
against a cliff just watching, or slow amble nosing among rocks
looking not a care in the world. But somewhere some guy in a chopper
gotta pay for his fuel.


                What's a sheep without a coyote to think about?
                A shit- and wool-producing coma on 4 legs.
                Hey you, sheep — fuck you!


Camping we used to hear them in the mountains, yips and yaps and
yowls echoing light down the valleys after dark. Usually
right after dusk, but sometimes late, sitting around the fire,
backs to the still cold dark watching flame spew sparks
up into the sudden electric surge up the spine, every pore
popping, skin pulling loose from the body that sound
sailing right through you rising and
falling voice after voice and then a lone
sustained note
                                then the whole pack at once, again,
k'ak'a'phony.


                What's a coyote without a sheep to think about?
                a hungry coyote looking for voles. What's coyote to me,
                man? Coyote ain't nothin' to me, Coyote my main
                man, Coyote a bad man coyote a fool coyote
                make me, pissed on a sagebrush and there I was!
                coyote look at me with the old man's eyes and I
                follow right along Coyote me.


Once, next morning, went looking found their deerkill
lying in a meadow, bloody bits of hide on bones, tongue
and glassy eyes in dewy grass, gut-strewn, a good-size doe,
coyote hit&run. Another trip, took along our pure-bred white&liver brittany spaniel, damn fool, ran off rolled fresh coyote shit, some dewy meadow somewhere, came back streakd brown & ripe dad chuckd 'im in the crick & prob'ly kicked 'im I don't know pistoff and that dog stunk like hell comes right in grabs my arm coyote does, starts singing my pen likes to write all kinds of crap almost always a fuck you and some nasty dig about dogs or squaws or jews don't even think he believe all that shit but he just got to say it to piss people off and it almost always works but he sure

                                can

                                      sing

the real shit
wakes you up in the middle of the night that song,
guts gone all willowy, suddenly sweaty in your too-thin bag your
eyes fly open to a million crystals in the black, like nothing
you ever see in city, like a blanket, like more white than black, like
the milky way's a cloud, CW, a cloud from here to hell and maybe

a breeze
breathing in the spruce
but most the time
no breath at all
a hush
and just
when you can't remember
what woke you up he goes again


                What's Coyote to me, man?
                Fuck you! sang coyote
                                            and ran


lunatic laughing scream swelling

        fading
shifting
                                stalling

singing to you

                                You getting the message?

   He don't care. He knows
   he sounds best in this high thin air,
   shooting stars zipping the obsidian lake
   25 feet from your tent and
   10,000 feet from L.A.


Though he likes L.A., too, when he goes.
He invented Hollywood, you know,
and he even played himself in the First
Temptation of Christ.


                "Hey you, Sheep,

                        fuckyou."

h o m e
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