A cycle of poems to Coyote

Co-Pastor Jon Rieley-Goddard has written a cycle of poems on the trickster figure Coyote:


Coyote stomped on Nothing until the World appeared.

— with tnx and apologies to Gary Snyder (Cold Mountain Poems)

Off-Road Exile: Poems for Coyote

Coyote, man, is clever,
but Coyote is not your friend,
no matter how helpful
he may be, sometimes.

Never forget,
and always remember,
Coyote stomped on Nothing
for his own reasons.

Coyote is tricky, man.
Trickster is his middle name.
Watch for Coyote, man.
The silent e in Coyote, man,
that’s the trickster.


The exile who sees self
as victim
will not survive the night.
Poor-Me must become,
a pissed-off, hungry hobo
with a fierce sadness.

One must
find the other hobos
in their jungle,
for there no one starves.

Even Coyote needs to eat.


Coyote, ace trickster,
holds the stronger hand
in most deals,
even when the cards
are marked
and the deck is stacked
against him.

Don’t ask how Coyote
marks the cards.


Coyote – look at him
in his muddy, patchy coat,
with his tongue
hanging out!
– has Nothing.

No one steals from Coyote, man.


If the truth does not set you free,
you lie
and you steal,
but every hobo knows
that you never lie to,
or steal from,


Lepers, AIDS victims,
find strength
in kind.
Go and do likewise.

Only Coyote can survive alone.


Cathy and I followed through on a resolution to get up at 5:15 a.m. to see a total eclipse of the moon. I wrote some poems.


5 Seens & 2 I’s

The Moon in the Sky                          The Moon in the Sky
– and not,                                        – and Not:
if you know                                       The Night
what I mean.                                    and Nothing.


The Moon sits
in darkness,                                         …
like Coyote
at rest.


The Moon,
the Sky,                                               …
the Void,
the Night.


Contorted                                          We contort
to see                                                to see
the presence                                      Nothing,
of absence.                                        past trees, houses.



Pale shadow                                      Pale shadow
of itself                                            of itself now.
As dawn                                           Coyote greets
comes near.                                      the Dawn.


06 Sept 07

Pear Foraging – Bond Lake

Windfall Orchard,
call it – Forgotten Farm.
Pears in their
waiting for those who can
take and eat.

Looking at the ground,
listening for spirits.
Hello! to Coyote
who gets drunk on the leavings
and sees two of everything, in pears.

Countless pickers,
now gone.
A bond, still.
Like a lake.


18 Sept 07:

The Face of Coyote


Cutting pears – paring –
first in half,
then again, for four.
I see the face
of Coyote in my
hand —
black, seedy eyes.

Why the long face,
why so pale.

Bond Lake spook.
He has to be there
Perfect cover
for a shadow life.

Pear-shaped face
like a shroud.
No one sees
Coyote in death.
Seldom in life.

I cut another pear
in half, and half again.
Hello! again,
O my friend,
my enemy.

Seeing you
makes my day.


Bond Lake is becoming a favorite place for Cathy and me. We went there between morning church and afternoon church, to pick more pears – a pair for pears … . We got three big buckets of bosc pears. I love free stuff! Cathy found some tiny red apples, too. We are excited about pruning a few of the apple trees for next year and looking now for windfalls.


from trees.

Horse riders
chew a bit
and discard the rest.

amid the pears:
Bond Lake clip-clop.



like little bells,
tinkling from trees.


19 Sept 07:

Coyote (Once) Killed My Cat

You kill
without thought
or anger.
You just kill,
because it is
your way
in the world.

Did you Create

Not love,
but awe,
and dread,
and watchfulness.
Dammit, and love –
that’s me, to you.

  O my friend,
my enemy.


Anyone worth knowing, let alone loving, is probably tricky and dangerous, and acts at times with ferocious intent and a lack of remorse or self-awareness, like cats killing mice after they tire of “playing” with them. Or like coyotes killing cats, because they can.

God, God’s self and selves – count ‘em, three – needed a Son to show us a human-level love that we would understand.

God needed a daughter of wisdom, a Holy Spirit, to guide us and teach us about community, beginning inside each one, indwelling like the wind.

God needed to be God, too, to create. This we love and fear, and barely understand. And cannot hardly comprehend.

Coyote is like this last.


You go your way,
spreading yourself
then loping away.
You kill and eat,
like cats. Like me.

You create for me
a world of peril
and beauty,
and bounty.

My cats
stay inside

The government
once paid
a bounty
for your hide:
Hurting you back,
bounty for bounty.

You steal
from me,
and I am glad.

I write poems
in honor
of you.


Poems copyright 2007 Jon Rieley-Goddard

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