A delusion is only a picture in The Audubon Guide.

Color photos of my face before

the anti-psychotics worked all food into fat,

I had shed all the fur I could. Learning to swim

after the flood came, but the gulch

was swallowed by the iron blood

of sand, the crass heat of the sun.

I understand. You cannot eat cacti,

you must travel to find food, you don’t shed

your coat for seasons, because winter is red,

dark, cold, and fighting. I recognized my eyes, but

the eyes are always seen first before a car hits Coyote.

Social Security will not pay for the taxidermy needed to know

what not to trust,

after hunting. Rabbits feed on wilting alfalfa

dropped from a flatbed truck.

Coyote caught in an early century spring-loaded catcher trap

cyanide stuck inside a brandished, rabid slobber

of starvation, no grass to settle the stomach

chewing the sides of his ribs, rabbit meat running with blood.

Animal empathy. Insecurity of humans, refused to be treated

of harm of paranoia,

of being chased of being fox-holed

at the cliff of a 3rd story apartment. I threw books off to test the fall.

I perish. I eat pills made to be sane,

righteous guides through wilderness.

They let me loose before my

30 days of mental fast in the desert was up

promising meds obtained on time.

I stumble up the stairs of the cliff like I crawled

over the flat red, stairwell, carpet. Dirty blood on my forehead

a stairwell landing only as I fell: gash,

rocks, crags in a drunken climb.

I need the sure foot of a claw like the paw

of a Cub Scout badge like a precious marriage

of human hands and beast claws—

I want the rank of Coyote

to crawl to some high flat place out of the gulch

where rattlesnakes rule during the day.

The later it gets, the martyr escapes from my veins.

Running from a wound already closed up.

I thought paradise a vista

in case of the need to jump. Coyote thought paradise

was a chase. Cops thought paradise a car

with a grate to see into the back.

A drunk thought it a saline solution filled with Ativan,

a hunter with a filled-up sight of a scope. Coyote’s

paradise is truly leading a human into the maw

of the spring-loaded trap, a rattlesnake’s grasp.

Or a deep, inescapable gulch leaving bones

to chew on. I cannot be tranquilized,

because I overdosed on grandeur. Coyote cannot be put

to sleep. He is a Skinwalker, a Hellhound. Each nightmare,

a howl alarm for meds, a therapist guides me away.

Breathing exercises cover the fear of wishing

to be buried until the next flash

flood. Coyote has yet to learn to swim.



 Jeff Pearson is a graduate of the University of Idaho’s MFA Program and a past resident of Idaho State Hospital South. In 2017 he won Permafrost's New Alchemy Prize for "User Review of Medications." His chapbooks include Sick Bed and Locations Services, which can be found on his website, http://poesyjeffpearson.com. He is the former Managing Editor for Blood Orange Review and current Poetry Editor for 5x5 Lit Mag. He tweets at @legoverleg. 

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