Friday, April 22, 2016

National Poetry Month--Coyote at the Poetry Reading

Today's poem is the third in my sequence of Coyote poems for #NationalPoetryMonth. "Coyote at the Poetry Reading" was written later in the series, although in the narrative sequence, its place comes much earlier near the beginning.

As a poet who's done hundreds of readings and organized long-running poetry reading series for many years, it was a natural for me to write a poem putting Coyote in that environment, especially because there are poets who try to pretend to be like Coyote, wearing their expensive, tailored leather jackets and flaunting their Ivy League degrees (as they pretend to scorn all such things). The thought of setting the real deal up against such pretenders and other cabals on the poetry circuit was irresistible.

Of course, all the black-leather bad boys of film, television, and literature owe their genesis to Marlon Brando's masterful performance in The Wild One. So here's a photo of the grand old original.


He walks in late,
of course,
and sits in the back row
even though he’s on the program.
Coyote wraps a storm
around him like a protective shield,
wears his leather like armor,
stares the woman in business suit
and her partner in high-style casual
into dropping their eyes. Coyote
makes everyone nervous.

Whispers circle the room.
Who asked him to read?
“Must have been some woman,”
one bearded man says, with a sniff.
“A guy would have known better.”
“Probably thinks it’s some kind of slam,”
one professor tells another.

When they call his name,
Coyote stalks to the podium
and growls into the microphone,
while, around the room, the air
burns with after-lightning
ozone and smells of blood
and splintered bones.

Published in Heart’s Migration (Tia Chucha Press, 2009)