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Native American Love Poems
Toe’osh: A Laguna Coyote Story


American Love Poems Part 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5


In the wintertime at night
we tell coyote stories
and drink Spañada by the stove.
How coyote got his
ratty old fur coat bits of old fur
the sparrows stuck on him
with dabs of pitch.
That was after he lost
his proud original one in a poker game.
anyhow, things like that
are always happening to him,
that’s what he said, anyway.

And it happened to him at Laguna
and Chinle and Lukachukai too,
because coyote got too smart for his own good.

But the Navajos say he won a contest once.
It was to see who could sleep out in a snowstorm the longest
and coyote waited until chipmunk badger
and skunk were all curled up under the snow
and then he uncovered himself and slept all night inside
and before morning he got up and went out again
and waited until the others got up before he came in to take the prize.

Some white men came to Acoma and Laguna a hundred years ago
and they fought over Acoma land and Laguna women,
and even now some of their descendants
are howling in the hills southeast of Laguna.

Charlie Coyote wanted to be governor
and he said that when he got elected
he would run the other men off the reservation
and keep all the women for himself.

One year the politicians got fancy at Laguna.
They went door to door with hams and turkeys
and they gave them to anyone who promised to vote for them.
On election day all the people stayed home
and ate turkey and laughed.

The Trans-Western pipeline vice president
came to discuss right-of-way.
The Lagunas let him wait all day long
because he is a busy and important man.
And late in the afternoon they told him
to come back again tomorrow.

They were after the picnic food
that the special dancers left down below the cliff.
And Toe’osh and his cousins hung themselves down over the cliff
holding each other’s tail in their mouth making a coyote chain
until someone in the middle farted
and the guy behind him opened his mouth to say
“What stinks?” and they all went tumbling down, like that.

Howling and roaring
Toe’osh scattered white people out of bars
all over Wisconsin.
He bumped into them at the door
until they said ”Excuse me”
And the way Simon meant it
was for 300 or maybe 400 years.

Leslie Marmon Silko


American Love Poems Part 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

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