The Old Man Who Lived Along Swatara Creek

He lived in a tarpaper shack
and the ducks would come up
from the creek and quack around it.
Sometimes, the water would come up
and lie all around the tiny hovel.
He was not “desperately poor.”
He was well beyond that, into nature.
He was nature.
He had no visible means of support
but the air, but mercy
of a large vegetable garden.
Yet he did not take the ducks’ eggs.
He did not steal their children
as his distant siblings would advise him.
They would not visit
that horrible, sometimes-floating shack.
They would send him Christmas cards
urging him to steal duck eggs
to survive. They would sometimes
tape a quarter to the forehead
of the baby Jesus inside the card
for good luck.

The Animal

The suddenness of it all,
the coyote in the dumpster
behind the Dollar Tree
jumping out of it,
fleeing the human,
the goofy talking kids he ran between,
making them scream,
weaving across the highway,
missing speeding grills
by mere inches,
made it into the deep brush
grown up around the railroad tracks,
on fire at this time of day
with the dying sun,
and there he disappeared.
It is phenomenal
to be alive
at the same time
as things that struggle for survival
with this much style,
using the spark
of the specific gift,
the singers,
the screamers,
the runners like him,
or those who wrench
the horrible facts of existence
into stories
that buoy us as the gods
once lifted us, when we needed them.
We have a crazy gene
or two for this,
coded to move
us to the tune
of well-played bullshit
of any sort that’s geared
to survival,
though it makes us
crazy, though it
probably means
nothing but what
it is, it still is,
persistently,
and always
our desire for it,
to be a part
of it, weirdly
comes on
and at us
suddenly
and all we can say is,

Hell yes,
I want to be
a coyote too.