Friday, May 28, 2010



A coyote, skinny with scruffy
yellow-gray fur, eyes first
red from the sting of my
seal beams then flash-white
with reflex, caught for a
wild instant in the LED glare
from my Suzuki. He had been
slinking from yard to yard
at the end of my alley,
running free in the suburbs,
giving up the hunt for dog
scraps or stray cats
It stopped for a pregnant
moment, staring mean at me,
informing me that even here
it had dominion and power,
and I was only a diversion,
a nusance, before it bolted
back into the thick green
belt on the edge of town.

Today there was another
panhandler at the freeway
exit, this one in a sad
wheelchair, rubber on his
wheels shabby and gray
duct tape covering cracks
in the vinyl of his seat,
the naked stump of his
below-the-knee amputation
riding proud on the left
arm cover, wearing a greasy
camouflage hooded poncho
that mantled most of his
UofW sweatshirt, a John
Deere ball cap pulled
down over his eyebrows--
his shaded eyes looked feral,
red-rimmed with dark circles
under them, an addict's thin
cheeks with four day's growth
of gray-red beard, just sitting
in the rain holding a very
wet cardboard sign, hardly
readable as the ink ran
and the letters smeared:
"Disabled Veteran--Homeless--
Hungry--Any Amount Would Help
--God Bless." As I rolled
by hearing my radials on
the wet pavement I took the
easy way out, and avoided
eye contact.

Strolling through the newer
section of the Puyallup
Tribal Cemetery, I came upon
an odd stone, with the
inscription written in gold
leaf on Italian marble:
"Infant Marcus Sixkiller.
April 1964--June 1964.
An only son who brought us
tremendous joy during every
day we spent with him--
who one day sprouted Cherub's
wings and flew home. See you
soon, Junior. Don't forget us."
Someone had erected a tiny
white picket fence around the
child's plot, and several
kinds of colorful daisies
were planted in the black nurturing
soil. A carnival
fan stuck in the middle of
the flowers spun hard in the
breeze, and at its base
wooden cars and trucks
circled it. There was a yellow
plastic turtle with an orange
shell on its back. A one-eyed
weather-beaten vermin-knawed
Teddy bear was propped up
near the headstone. I baptised
it with my own hot tears.

Glenn Buttkus May 2010

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