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From: Vol.10 N.01 – The Transformative Now


by Gavin Van Horn
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-

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: killed murdered 
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 

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: 

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.

Published: June 2023
Gavin Van Horn

is Executive Editor for Center for Humans and Nature Press, the author of The Way of Coyote: Shared Journeys in the Urban Wilds, and co-editor, with Robin Wall Kimmerer and John Hausdoerffer, of the award-winning five-volume series, Kinship: Belonging in a World of Relations.

An Australian and international
journal of ecopoetry and ecopoetics.

Plumwood Mountain Journal is created on the unceded lands of the Gadigal and Wangal people of the Eora Nation. We pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and to elders past, present and future. We also acknowledge all traditional custodians of the lands this journal reaches.