“Last Coyote” By Michael Stankiewicz (2015)

Wallace Stevens Poetry Contest, Third Place (2015)

for K.E.J.

Despite the buckshot of light from the sky’s many barrels
we can’t see them circling Boulder Ridge
at three o’clock in the morning.
You and I, blanket wrapped in the center of what you call
the moonfield—an abandoned soccer tract
where I’d played paintball as a kid.
Twelve years separate a paintball to the ass
from the truer peril of coyotes. When I used to worry about falling
victim to this town this is not what I imagined.
Yet from the part of my mouth
favoring the bitten cheek,
the bleeding tongue,
I enter into their conversation with a howl.
You laugh.
When I swerve to miss a coyote on the ride home
we’re still holding hands,
only I don’t miss and it’s not a coyote
but a girl dressed like a dog.
In high beam holy glow we come roadside
to a place where clairvoyance is a biting mosquito and we’re doing everything
wrong. You are without understanding
firing a paintball gun long after the whistle has blown.
My facemask is off.
You are still laughing.
You once told me you’d die
if a boy ever wrote a poem about you.
Be done with it
then.

This poem first appeared in the 2015 edition of LRR.

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