coyoteLaurel Jenkins-Crowe
coyotehead satori

this head of mine useful
for knowing the world pointy
end for eating smelling blunt
end for hearing knowing
yes yes

les and his buddy billy found this roadkilled coyote
billy took the tail and les the head for the skull
only how to get the rest of the head off?

he buried it thinking the worms would leave him a clean skull
yellow smooth and wise
the blunt end gone pointy where neck muscles tie on

they never get fat
but they never starve
this was a thing les could admire

he buried it out back of the trailer where he his wife and the five boys
two his and three hers lived and he went about his business
until he figured the work was done

the lawn was a sameness of dust
with the odd plume of grass struggling up so he dug
all around where and deeper than he had buried it


les called the boys together
Ten dollars to whoever finds that coyotehead
every day he came home from work and there were more holes

Daddy we got anymore shovels?
the boys glowed red under yellow dust striped with sweat

one evening the lawn was so low it looked like the trailer had been raised
all the holes had met
but no coyotehead

when they had parties the grownups tried
to figure out what
desperate critter had taken it and how it filled in the hole so neat

It would about have to been another coyote is what billy said

i nailed that tail to my chicken coop as a warning
but them other coyotes don’t pay it no mind

they say Coyote got his head caught in an elk skull once
some mice were having a party in there
and he fell in the river
when people ran to the banks to save him he cried
Only the young girls
I don’t want anyone else touching me
two hauled him ashore by the antlers
and when he jumped one her mother
whacked his head with a stick
and smashed off the elk skull—

in the stories Coyote’s always trying to beg other peoples’ medicine
like white folks at a powwow

they share what they know about how to live but he ends up eyeless
or dead (again) or covered in (his own) shit


anthropologists assure us
he is “not necessarily a coyote”

(there’s a coyote skull on my desk
but I don’t pay it no mind)

--instead of that yellow den
the whole sky yes yes
where I thought I had a head
all this time

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