Coyotes

by Peter Sagnella Issue: Spring/Summer 2020

For Christos Georgiou

In the dark long ago I heard the howl.
Upridge, whorls of sound above 

Mad Mare Hill. Like nostrils sniffing 
an unwanted scent I could turn then 

from that contour of night, let ear 
and eye shape a day’s bright chant.

Then in brilliant sunset gleam I saw 
one trot across a field, teeth clenched, 

jaw firm, locked like a sentinel 
spotlighting the pitch-black for an uprising. 

Dead, the rabbit knew nothing 
of the power in that jaw. Or perhaps, 

in its way, in its final frantic fury, 
it knew all.

                                    To rise up. Once
you told us the story: how they shot 

any villager who tried to feed a family 
on greens picked in the field of Papoulia. 

From the bough of one tree they hung 
the bodies, then dumped them in holes 

of hot, parched earth. At night, you said, 
keen to the scent, a pack came to feed. 

It tore, ripped corpses from the dirt. 
By morning half-gnawed, tissue-flecked 

bones had surfaced like snapped riggings 
of sunk ships. And whenever you inhaled 

the sweet leaf of that tree, you could not 
keep its stench out of your throat. 


Peter Sagnella

Peter Sagnella lives in North Haven, Connecticut, where he has taught Composition, Poetry, and Environmental Literature for eighteen years. His work has appeared in many journals, most recently Borderlands, New Haven Review, Kestrel, SLANT, and The Comstock Review. He was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2015, and was Edwin Way Teale Writer-in-Residence at Trail Wood in 2017.