How I Survived a Coyote Attack

Sometimes the shadows have teeth

there are coyotes in the night

and this coyote doesn’t care that I’m just out for a jog

and after I’m going out to grab a bite

first the coyote wants to grab a bite, me

and starts chasing

now I’m not jogging I’m sprinting for my life

though I know my two legs are not faster than his four

thank God, salvation in the form of a park bench

which I jump up on and await the horror

the coyote circles the bench, head low, looking for the point of attack

I think back to when I faced the bear in Alaska

and above trembling knees I raised my arms and my voice and the bear retreated into the trees

I try this tactic now, and the coyote doesn’t flinch

in fact, it brings him nearer, less than a meter from me now, head low, silent

I try getting meaner, kicking the wood of the bench, screaming “Go! Go! Get! Fuck off, coyote!”

the coyote continues circling the bench, looking up at me, waiting for an opening

I try lowering my arms and my voice, whispering

“Go away, I don’t want to fight you. Go. Go away, I’m sorry I swore at you”

and the coyote steps into the shadows

how far God only knows

until I see it run by again

I sing three albums worth of songs before getting down from the bench

and venture the same way the coyote had gone

wanting to run, but thinking walking is wise

running had provoked the coyote the first time.

The most terrifying walk of my life

how the moonlight slithered through the branches

from the bench to the boardwalk’s glow

I figured I would be safe by the light.

I picked up a stick and swung it at shadows

ready for anything

even for dinosaur attack

though the light of the boardwalk was only a kilometer back

a kilometer felt like walking through the valley of the shadow of death

(I actually recited the twenty-third Psalm)

I walked faster, sweaty palms

and when I set foot on the boardwalk I broke into a smile and into a run.


6 thoughts on “How I Survived a Coyote Attack

  1. planaquarium

    Great running narrative, with such energetic imagery! Even the scenery comes to life with a menacing tone: “the moonlight slithered through the branches / from the bench to the boardwalk’s glow” – nice!

  2. granbee

    Peter, first apologize in softer tones, then singing, then walking, then following, then finding familiar path: what an intelligent and care-taking set of resolution steps you took! You have indeed set an example for me I suspect I have been badly needing! Shadows with teeth hoover far too near far too many of us!

  3. Louise Jaques

    Peter, I so enjoyed this. It reminded me of many late night walks home, where you are convinced that the shadows are moving, and no matter how much you convince yourself that you are just on your little street, it seems like another world at nightime. You brought back these feelings with a real chill to my bones! Felt myself sigh in a couple of parts!

    One question however – did you intend for the coyote to be a metaphor for some demon chasing the subject? Or is it real? (Sorry if I completely missed the point of the poem!)

    1. cottonbombs Post author

      Don’t let me tell you the meaning. You tell me. “This site has a lot to do with your imagination” is my philosophy, so, it’s not my place to tell you what you think. Just because I wrote it, doesn’t mean I know it any better than you, if you choose to get to know a writing. I can, however, tell you that this night with the coyote happened to me last Saturday, running through a park a few kilometers from my apartment. It was one of the scariest, most thrilling nights of my life and I’m thankful I got a poem out of it. I’m also thankful if you or anyone liked it. Thank you.


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