Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Urban Legend

by Fred Pollack

That salivating snout, weird
white eyes, that
grin no predator omits
even when starving, which he might well be.  Just a
glimpse, in mirrors, in
windows in slant light,
paintings in bad light, countertops,
monitors.  The head moves back and forth
and who are you to say
it’s a coyote or wolf, what do you know of
either?  Native Americans made
the coyote the great ambiguous artist; they were
noble, of course, but not necessarily right: there’s no
trickery in those eyes, no
fun.  The head moves,
dribbling, and you think, sentimentally,
of The Steppenwolf (but you’re flattering yourself,
aren’t you? that isn’t
you); then, more
maturely perhaps, of Beuys
communing with one for a week in a room
Midtown amid straw and piss – but
this one doesn’t
commune (and what makes you think
it’s a matter of culture, that these nervously grasped metonymies
help?).  Sometimes not only
the head but the whole thing
trots (“slouches”) out of the frame
(he could be whining and you wouldn’t hear),
to reappear perhaps
to someone on a bus,
the subway, a bridge – as if what’s
behind there, where he is, has
no walls as well as no food, is a
loft as big as the metropolitan
area; as if space, not time, were the killer.

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