“Coyote” by T-Marie Nolan

Shell Game

 

my hand is a walnut husk

concealing the circularity of a box

rocaille ropes of beads, refract light

glitter, encircle

the red unblinking albino eye​​ 

retinal depth

accents the lid

 

i bought this box on the way to a grumpy poet’s house

over 20 years ago

to synesthetically guide young writers​​ 

color-sounds-smells-words

 

in a used book store

i can’t remember the time of year

other than life was hard with divorce,

deaths, too many choices

i had only dollar bills​​ 

 

my life filed down to bright aluminum

interspersed with the beaded dots and long dashes

repeated S.O.S. ​​ i thought no one was listening

and kept tap tapping like a stone to tooth to a metal pipe

- codes, pleading soliloquies -

veined white like old scars: my appendectomy​​ 

the butcher gouged at 8 years old, my left heel​​ 

sewn back on the day before summer vacation,​​ 

scars from burns, fighting for my life

a gamble​​ 

with one foot here – the other there​​ 

 

 

 

Ice Age

 

Life was never so true the sun rose​​ 

burnt orange over Chazy Lake that morning

it was 30 below zero. Color seeped through

a crisp atmosphere onto nature’s glass of blue ice

bleeding reflections among the assorted

tin fishing shacks. Trees snapped.​​ 

 

On another lake, in a different state,

sons and fathers stand about, rocking their weight

from booted foot to booted foot. Boys jiggled

all over to keep their stringy limbs warm.

Local men wore no hats, smoked cigarettes without gloves,​​ 

their ears exposed to everything - too worn, too tough.​​ 

In their mountain Maine dialect, they drawled round robin

about the lake, hooches, and augers still snug​​ 

in the backs of long bed pick-up trucks​​ 

among fishing gear and thermoses:

 ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​​​ She must be frozen by now

 ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​​​ Ehyuh, without a doubt

 ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​​​ She’s solid

 ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​​​ Ehyuh, without a doubt

 ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​​​ If we’re gonna drill let’s get to it

 ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​​​ Ehyuh, for sure

 ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​​​ She’s solid

 ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​​​ Ehyuh, without a doubt

 ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​​​ She must be frozen by now

I sold coffee and soda from the back of a 4x4​​ 

a privileged female, The Lady of the Lake, the ole timers dubbed me,​​ 

their memories crisp and nostalgic. ​​ 

 

Life was never so true as the sky was whistle clear that night​​ 

we stopped to take a leak just outside Rumford, I squat down​​ 

pissin’ so hard even when I saw the headlights’ reflection

bouncing off the snowbanks, I couldn’t stop.

Being a man, I suppose, you did what was natural:

you chuckled, did a quarter turn pissin’ on the back bumper

raised your palm to the rear window

and wiped the glass clean.

 

 

 

Fool

 

Coyote is an old man today.

And sits with a bundle of anxiety.

 

Wondering​​ 

if there’s anyone who doesn’t have worries.

 

Coyote wonders where he’ll find a squirrel

or field mouse to feast upon.

 

What sort of seasoning

brings the best out in rodents.

 

He wonders why he doesn’t have the money to eat out or burrow like fox, hibernate like bear.

 

Instead he trots scantly with a worry bundle

disguised as bad jokes.

 

It amuses people to believe

Coyote has no troubles.

 

 

Suzanne S. Rancourt, Abenaki/Huron descent, has authored two books: Billboard in the Clouds, Curbstone Press / NU Press 2nd print, received the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas First Book Award. murmurs at the gate, Unsolicited Press, released May 2019. Ms. Rancourt is a multi-modal EXAT and CASAC with an MS in psychology, an MFA in writing, and CAGS. A USMC and Army Veteran, her works are published /forthcoming in The Ilanot Review, Cathexis, Pif Magazine, Other Worldly Women Press Anthology, Mizmor Anthology, Rat’s Ass Review, Lucky Jefferson, The Wrath-Bearing Tree, Free State Review, Event Magazine, Pangyrus, BigCityLit, Callaloo, Cimarron Review, Muddy River Poetry Review, Ginosko, Tupelo Press Native Voice Anthology, New Reader Magazine. For more info: www.expressive-arts.com

T-Marie Nolan’s work is alive, expressive, spontaneous and has a large dose of free child running through it…  Her characters pulsate in colorful environments allowing the viewer to hope, fear and smile. Nolan is a self-taught artist who currently resides in the basement of an old church building near the Mississippi River in Hannibal, Missouri, USA. The sanctuary now serves as an art studio she shares with her husband. The artist was born in Connecticut, USA in 1954, the eighth of eleven children. She spent many years working in libraries in all sorts of capacities: book repair, bookmobile driver, children’s librarian, storyteller, events programmer. Nolan embraced her lifelong obsession with art and became a full-time artist in the late 1980’s. Her work is in collections all over the world.