Black nose glistening, inch off the pavement. Snows have pulled back, warmer earth on the way. Rain drizzles along my golden snout, opens up ripe aromas: fresh-baked pastries, blossoms in the median, diesel exhaust, a slickened rainbow— promises unkept—of puddled motor oil. ~ You tried your best. Money, bureaucracy, chemistry— sticky clay around a geode of bloodlust. A nation swaggered with the certainty of death: cleanse the howling wilderness. First, traps and rifles. Then bounties; strychnine-laced baits; government poisons (thallium sulfate, sodium fluoroacetate); M-44 cyanide tubes (so-called “Humane Coyote-Getter”). Our bodies hung from fences, from cars, skins and rigid limbs tossed out with the garbage. The past is past, bygones begone. A lot of people don’t know: it’s still happening. ~ Thing is, I’m a born dancer. I jig into your cities. Even when you sleep, especially when you sleep. I know traffic patterns, how to disappear, how to dine on ancestral offerings at cemeteries. ~ How did I become despisable—so disposable? What made men of action call out varmint—with spittle on their lips—name me unworthy of anything but a bullet or poison? It wasn’t always this way with two- leggeds. You know? People liked me. Really liked me. I mean, sure, I screwed the way the stars got hung in the sky. But I had a hand, too, in creating this land. Plus, I’m a born comedian: got my head stuck in a buffalo skull, couldn’t find my own asshole once. What I’m really good at is thinking outside the box, under the fences, across the lines meant to keep me in and out of place. ~ Tax dollars at work. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Wildlife Services, annual statistics for 2021:
killedmurdered 200 cougars, 324 wolves, 433 black bears, 605 bobcats, 1,477 gray foxes, 1,484 red foxes, 24,687 beavers, and 64,131 coyotes. I win again. ~ I’ve always carried more than fur or fang, more than feral threat to sheep and peaceable kingdoms. Biocide got militarised because you knew, deep in your bones: I carry a cosmology. One that keeps you up at night. I am Trickster: transformation, change, adaptation. I circle behind you, my lip curled in what passes for a smile. ~ Border walls. Glass ceilings. Redlines. Either/Or. White and ... The world suffers hypoxia without circulation. Control—an outgrowth of fear. Control—to eliminate Trickster play. Control—human and nonhuman animals in their castes, you care more for the long, long gone, burning fossils for the all-night glow of you. The hoarding mind, the gated heart. This is not my way. ~ Why blockade imagination? Hear me chorusing—yipping atop discarded, junked-out cars. Your wildly thumping chest knows the answer. I require a loose grip. Let go the pretense that this land is yours. Parting advice: Attend to the Old Ways. Move with nose close to ground. Dig beneath pavement. Be faithful to life. Arch that spine of yours every so often and call to the moon. I’ll be nearby—always— curl of a smile on my lips.