Lucia Perillo



Here the coyote lives in shadows between houses,
feeds by running west to raid the trash behind the store
where they sell food that comes in cans
yesterday expired. Think of it
perching on the dumpster, a corrugated
sheet of metal welded to the straight, its haunch
accruing the imprint of the edge until it pounces,
skittering on the cans. Its attempts
to gnaw them open have broken all its teeth.

Bald-flanked, rheumy-eyed, sniffing the wheels
of our big plastic trash carts but too pigeon-
chested to knock them down, scat full of eggshells
from the compost pile. “I am like that, starved,
with dreams of rutting in a culvert’s narrow light—”
we mumble our affinities as we vacate into sleep.
Because we occupy the wrong animal—don’t you too feel it?
Haven’t you stood in the driveway, utterly confused?
Maybe you were taking out the garbage, twisting your robe
into a noose-knot at your throat, when you stopped
fighting the urge to howl, and howled—
and did you find relief, my friend, however self-deceiving?


“Domestic” appears in  On the Spectrum of Possible Deaths (Copper Canyon Press, 2012).

Lucia Perillo has published six books of poetry, including Luck Is Luck, winner of the Kingsley Tufts Award, a book of short stories, Happiness is a Chemical in the Brain, and a memoir, I’ve Heard the Vultures Singing: Field Notes on Poetry, Illness, and Nature. Her most recent poetry collections are Inseminating the Elephant (Copper Canyon Press, 2009), a finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize, and her newly released collection, On the Spectrum of Possible Deaths (Copper Canyon Press, 2012). Perillo, a MacArthur Fellow, has taught at Syracuse University, Saint Martin’s University, and Southern Illinois University. She lives in Olympia, Washington.


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