The man sits, waiting patiently
for the wolf to arrive. It has
been far too long, this wait,
as the Wolf has his lair in
the distant mountain, and
has little use for the people
in the city, in the place
where the man sits waiting.
The man is sure they met once,
although he is now beginning to
wonder if it was simply coyote
assuming the shape
of his lupine imagination.
The man cannot or will not say
why he wishes to see the Wolf,
it is enough for him
to have the desire, and he knows
that once wolf arrives,
he and the Wolf together
will sing a piercing
song to the moon.


Down at the butt end
of the arroyo is a pond,
an aneurysm in the stream
that runs down from the mountains
for better than a month
each spring.
The twisted, gnarled mesquite
cluster around it,
like children gazing at a corpse
in utter fascination
who dare not approach
lest it become real and touch them.
The three scrawny goats
nibble at the mesquite
and stare at themselves
on the surface, occasionally
dragging their tongues
through the water.
Each night as the sun
is swallowed by the earth,
their songs begin
until the gods arise
from the water
and dance
across the parched ground.



I came down out of these mountains
once, emerged from clouds that built,
blackened the sky, bleached
and were gone, I slid on snow pack,
I came down into the sage and piñon,
lit my fires and purified myself.
I ran with jackrabbits, imagined
bears were coyote, coyotes cats
that might curl in sleep
around my feet.  I dug
for water, turned parched ground
to straw with prayer and dream,
baled my dreams and straw
and stacked them neatly,
plastered them over and huddled
within, I ran wires to the mountain gods
and drew their power, I stole the light
of a thousand stars, darkened the moon
and now I am chindi, rejected by
my spirit kin, left to wander the mesa.


They come down from the hills
long after the sun
retreats beyond Tres Piedras.
In the moonless sky
they creep around the pinyon,
nestle the sage that
blankets the mesa, stare
at the scattered homes
that dot the half-frozen soil.
They are orange flames
compressed inside orbs
paired, they approach
here one set, there another.
The wind whistles through
the Rio Grande Gorge
here a mere whisper.
The wild rabbits perk,
fly through the sage
in lupine terror.
One brays to the stars
and inside the house
the fur on the cat’s back
bristles. It’s just a coyote,
he says, nothing
to be afraid of here.
At night, they say,
this land is once again
ours, and we hold
the key to the human prison.


I sit outside, on the mesa,
having watched the mauve, fuchsia
and coral sky finally concede to night.
The two orange orbs sit
twenty yards away, staring back
and in this moment coyote and I
have known each other for moments,
for generations, and we are content.
Coyote tells me he was once
an elder living in the old adobe
buildings, how he was a shaman,
still is, with his magic, and I
tell him of how I walked for years
in the desert, food appearing
from heaven, of how we crossed the sea
and some thought it parted for us.
Coyote and I are both old
and we know we each have stories
that no one would believe, and
so we are left to believe each other
and tell our stories to the sky gods.


On the mesa
between El Prado
and Tres Piedras
after the sun
has been swallowed
by  the mountains,
to the east a fire burns.
Countless stars
stare down
on the shivering sage.
The scorpion lunges
for the distant hill.
The fire grows
behind the mountain,
the orange disk
rises slowly.
The smallest stars
flee Luna’s furious light.
The jackrabbit
stands frozen
in the road
until her baleful eyes
fall on him,
and he dives
into the sage.
In the dead hours,
once she has
sought her refuge,
the clouds are
no longer shrouds.
The wind
in the canyons.


The coyotes come down from the Sandia Hills onto the mesa.  They are not spirits.  They are not totems.  They are not tricksters.  They are hungry: for a jackrabbit, for a bird, for a small dog wandering too far from a half-lit earthship.  They smell the sage, its faint odor carried on the night breeze.  Taos, its weak glow on the horizon, is a spirit.  It is a chindi to be avoided.  It is the home of the skinwalkers.  Out here walk only fools and shaman.  There is no moon this night.  The coyotes have no need for a moon.  The stars are not mythic creatures cast into the heavens.  They are points of light, collectively painting the black dome.  They bathe the sage and desert earth below in light.  A cry in the distance, a brother has been fed.  Coyote don’t mourn the jackrabbit.  His purpose has been fulfilled.  An elk bellows from across the asphalt ribbon or across the canyon carved by the river.  They know the river as more than a rope of water flowing beneath the bridge, the bridge on which men stand and marvel.  The coyotes have tasted the river. The river is a lifestream.   A jackrabbit cries.  A brother or sister howls.  There is a chorus.  There is silence.  Later, as the sun first appears behind the mountains, the coyotes retreat into the hills.

On this mesa, and in its surrounding hills, are the bones of many jackrabbits and many men.  There are the bones of the coyotes as well, all mingling in the dry, stony soil.