In the frosted field, beneath the night,
the hunter aims his unerring sight
for the king of stags with the crown
like a forest with its leaves fallen down,
and sitting in the crook of an old oak tree
he waits with his gun upon his stiff knee,
hearing the chorus of a raucous pack
of coyotes tracing the wild game track
where the stags and does often walk,
where the lesser-wolves often stalk,
and hearing their yipping, yowling laughter,
the hunter wonders what they are after
as they run manically to and fro
like dogs with a humor humans know
when witnessing hubris exact a price
and costs a man much for his vice.
The hunter loses patience with the pack
as they deny him his most desired rack
by chasing away all such grandstanding deer
that may wander thereto, or near enough here,
so the hunter might stake covetous claim
with apt opportunity and an expert aim.
Still the coyotes laugh wildly at him
while racing about the field’s moonlit rim.
Impatient for his next fireplace mount
while the coyotes run about without count,
he takes aim at the wry pack ever abounding
and pulls the trigger, the loud shot sounding
throughout a night that is otherwise silent
except for the coyote chorus, all defiant
at the bullets churning up the frosted turf—
dirt and grass, rock and root and earth.
The hunter loses his temper ever the more
when they all zig-zag around the old arbor
where he sits, his gun raised to his eye
while cursing the moon-lobed, lunatic sky.
He knows his aim true, yet none ever fall,
each shot striking as though the phantasmal,
the cross-hairs on their beastly hearts
and yet striking none of their fleshy parts.
Cussing the night, his gun, and each coyote,
he clambers down from the old oak tree.
But his hand slips on bark and he tumbles down,
falling head over heels, landing on his crown.
His rifle, too, falls roughly to the ground
and fires its anger with a deafening sound,
the bullet cutting a bloody red rut
through the core of his lily-white gut.
The coyotes converge, now, in a circle
and proceed to laugh, yip, and smirk till
one by one they fade away, the last
being the largest of all, in moonlight cast.
Coyote then dons his human skin
and stands upright, flashing a grin
as a black-haired trickster and new-come stranger,
animal and man, a deadly skin-changer.
He waves to the hunter as the man dies,
his bloody mouth agape, and wide his eyes
as he looks upon this primeval creature
who is coyote in spirit, but man in feature.
Coyote then takes a large black flint blade
from his corded leather waist braid
and cuts the scalp from the hunter’s head,
bringing it through the woods to his homestead
and adding it to a large stone wall within
covered in the scalps of other such men
who each mistook himself as a master
while scorning Coyote and his frightful laughter.
(For those who know of my Native American Apocalyptic Myth series, this is just another poem set in that universe concerning Glooskap and Tawiskaron. I have several short stories set in the universe, alongside the first novel “The Dark Dreamer”, published under my pseudonym SC Foster, and eventually I will finish the second novel “The Hunter Comes”, though it is slow going since I have so many other things I am currently working on under my other real name [SC Foster is my real name, too, but selectively excised]. There are simply not enough hours in the day to pursue everything and I feel a little bit overwhelmed. Not that I should complain, I suppose. Better the floodgates open than a drought beset the brain.)