Back to Issue Twenty-Three.

El Coyote and the Furies on the Day of the Dead



“where the Third World grates against the first and bleeds”
—Gloria Anzaldúa

The car overheats as you drive
through the Arizona desert at night.
You don’t panic. You coast to the side
of the road. Above you, starlight
and not much else. The moon hides
behind the mountain, gets sliced
open when it tries to climb
over the crest. The spill is bright
and reaches the trees nearby.
Their shadows stretch like
the arms of those who died
of thirst here. You can’t belie
this truth: you help them die—
the promises you make are lies,
coyote. They wait, you don’t arrive.
The crooked lawyer paid your fine,
the sheriff shrugged. Justice denied
the dead who gather here tonight
to hound you, a curse goodbye
before they sink back into the dry
surface of the sand. You remain inside
the car but still hear the winds chime
out your crimes, coyote. The cries
of the wronged shatter glass, pry
you from your den. Your hackles rise
in distress as you realize
you grew paws, a tail. Your eyes
yellow and balloon with fright.
You’re fucked. Your hasty flight
leaves a trail of warm scat behind.
A ghostly steam fades into sky.


Rigoberto González is the author of four previous books of poetry and a number of books of prose including, most recently, Pivotal Voices, Era of Transition: Toward a 21st Century Poetics, from the University of Michigan Press Poets on Poetry series. He is Professor of English and Creative Writing at Rutgers–Newark, the State University of New Jersey.

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