A poetic journey through my mind

Coyote Tanka

Tanka are a form of Japanese poetry, like the better known Haiku.  I’ve noticed that there are a few definitions for the syllable count in a tanka…the form I’ve chosen is 7, 5, 7, 5, 7, 7.  Hope you like the juxtaposition of a purely Western mythological figure and an Eastern art form!


coyote in the desert
ske’lep, or murphy,
whiskey jack, barking dog,
what shall I call you?

may I name you Trickster
and haunt the mountains with you?


I see your whiskered face, lost,
coyote in the city,
glass bottle of forgetting,
in crumpled paper bag

riding empty subway car
dreaming of desert sky home


coyote in the mountains
glow of firelight
you stare into the campfire
voice of gravel and stone

“Hey there, got a cigarette?”
your shadow has ears and braids


coyote takes a train ride
leathered paw grips tight
eyes under hat watch miles pass
through open steel door

places flash before your eyes
which one will you choose today?


coyote and the maiden
lovely by the fire
dancing to confuse her mind
bring her to your tent

night black hair like wings falling
raven laughs and flies away

6 responses

  1. elmediat

    Effective use of the Tanka sequence & form. Intriguing images and metaphor. The De-ba-jeh-mu-jig Theatre Group performed in our community. They incorporated the Trickster figure with the lost Native in their narrative. It was a very powerful performance. Your piece brings that to mind.
    Have you had much contact with First nation People and did it motivate/inspire this piece ?
    I have a Trickster piece posted on my blog, “Surreal Thursday: Crow-Magnon”. You may find it interesting.

    April 3, 2012 at 10:41 pm

  2. Wonderfully tricky personification of Coyote here, K.C. You have SUCH a gift for making us love tricksters!

    April 5, 2012 at 1:55 pm

  3. Very cool poetry, Kokopelli charlatan. Thanks for the follow.

    April 9, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    • KC

      Papa Legba open your way, my spider-legged friend!

      April 9, 2012 at 4:46 pm

  4. Pingback: Tanka 10 « My little poetry

  5. Love this…thank you for sharing
    Siggi in Downeast Maine

    April 12, 2012 at 12:00 am

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