Winter/Christmas Art Spur, 2017-2018, “Coyote” (and poems for inspiration)

coyoteartspur
(Photograph by Carol M. Highsmith, made possible by Carol M. Highsmith and the Gates Frontiers Fund Wyoming Collection within the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)

It’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. We know many that are worthy of a poem or a song. In Art Spur, we invite poets and songwriters to let selections of Western art inspire their poetry and songs.

Our 47th piece offered to “spur” the imagination is a special Winter/Christmas Art Spur, a photograph by contemporary photographer, author, and publisher Carol M. Highsmith, titled, “A lone, and lean, coyote makes the best of wintertime the northernmost Wyoming reaches of Yellowstone National Park.”

The photograph is included in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive at The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The collection description notes that, “Highsmith, a distinguished and richly-published American photographer, has donated her work to the Library of Congress since 1992. Starting in 2002, Highsmith provided scans or photographs she shot digitally with new donations to allow rapid online access throughout the world. Her generosity in dedicating the rights to the American people for copyright free access also makes this Archive a very special visual resource.”

Find more about Carol Highsmith and her work at http://www.carolhighsmith.com and on Facebook at Carol M. Highsmith’s America.

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SUBMISSIONS

Submissions are welcome from all. Christmas-themed poems and lyrics have a deadline of Thursday, December 21, 2017. Winter-themed submissions have a deadline of Thursday, January 18, 2018.

Poets and songwriters are invited to be inspired by the photograph; a literal representation of the art is not expected.

•  Please follow our regular guidelines for content.

•  You may submit one poem, either Christmas- or winter-themed.

•  Send your poem to poems@cowboypoetry.com and note “Art Spur” in the subject line.

Selected poems will be posted.

Find previous Art Spur subjects here and at CowboyPoetry.com.

 

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A  few coyote poems, for inspiration:

 

THE BELLED COYOTE
by Robert Fletcher (1885-1972)

Aint no one loves a coyote
That I ever heard about.
He aint nuthin’ but a pestilence
Requirin’ stampin’ out.
A sneakin’, thievin’ rustler,—
A gray, ga’nt vagabone
Whose locoed vocal tendencies
Are lackin’ depth and tone.

Seems like he’s always hungry
And Lord, man, when he wails
It’s the concentrated sinfulness
From lost and vanished trails.
Well, there’s one of them Carusos
Hangs about the Lazy B
And makes hisself obnoxious
Most plum’ consistently.

So, one day, a cayuse dyin’
We surrounds the corpse with traps,
Where we’d cached it in a coulee
A thinkin’ that perhaps
In a moment inadvertent
That coyote will come around
And meet up with some damn tough luck,
And we will have him downed.

Sure enough, he made an error
For he let his appetite
Prevail agin his judgment
And we cinched him that same night.
He got one foot caught in a trap
And jumpin’ ’round about
Another gloms him by a laig
And sort of stretched him out.

Naw, pard, we didn’t shoot him,—
Jest aimed to give him hell,
We took and strapped around his neck
A jinglin’ little bell
And turned him loose to ramble,—
Yes,–I reckin’ it was cruel,—
Aint a cotton-tail or sage-hen
That is jest a plain damn fool

Enought to not take warnin’
When they heard that little bell,—
So he don’t get too much food nor
Company, I’m here to tell.
He’s an outlaw with his own kind
And his pickin’s pretty slim,
‘Cause ev’rywhere he goes that bell
Gives warnin’ that it’s him.

And sometimes when it’s gettin’ dusk
And ev’rything plum’ still,
I can hear that bell a tollin’
As he slips around a hill.
It kind of gets upon my nerves,—
That, and his mournful cry,
For I know the skunk is fond of livin’
Same as you or I.

One day I’m in the saddle
A twistin’ up a smoke,
When he sneaks our of a coulee,
And pard, it aint no joke,
When I see him starved and lonesome,
A lookin’ ‘most all in,—
Well, perhaps I’m chicken hearted,
But it seemed a dirty sin,

And besides, that bell, it haunts me,
Till there doesn’t seem to be
A way t’ square things but to put
Him out of misery.
So I takes my 30-30,
As he sits and gives a yell,—
I drawed a bead, and cracked away,—
And busted that damn bell!

…by Robert H. Fletcher, from “Prickly Pear Pomes,” 1920 chapbook

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THE COYOTE
by S. Omar Barker (1895-1985)

The coyote of the western ranges
Survives despite all modern changes.
He views the world with dauntless drollery—
And does not practice birth controllery.

…S. Omar Barker, used with the permission of the S. Omar Barker estate

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THE COYOTE
by S. Omar Barker (1895-1985)

Cry, coyote! Cry lonely at dawn
For days of a past unforgotten but gone;
For buffalo black on the wide, grassy plains,
In a land still unfettered by civilized chains.

Cry shrill for a moonrise undimmed by the glare
Of cities and highways. Who is there to share
With a slim little wolf all the longing he wails
From moon-mystic hilltops and shadowy trails?

Cry, coyote, gray ghost of the rimrock! Your cry
Still echoes in hearts where old memories lie.
Cry, coyote! Cry lonely at dawn
For open-range freedom now vanished and gone!

…S. Omar Barker, used with the permission of the S. Omar Barker estate