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rough bone whine by Calum Robertson

grandaddy keeps a coyote skull on his desk

shot him in fortyfive

im not allowed to touch it

except one christmas i caught

grandaddy crying bourbon

and pall mall cigarettes

id thrown a fit at my aunt ann

screamed at my brother and

scared the turkey meat sour

in loose-held secrets the mouths

of this family are too tense

jaws wired shut

so the coyote cant howl

grandaddy lets me stay in his study

til the tears run dry

through the bottle glass he

shows me how bone can sparkle

when asked politely

this coyote can still sing

grandaddy opens the window

slow and slumping

i help him when the latch

catches on his tattered jacket

sleeve with the whiskey stain

and we let the winter wind in

grandaddy held the skull against

the rattling sill

wind through bone i heard

that coyote skull sing


Calum Robertson, sometimes known as syf, (fae/faer/faeself) is a full-time tea-drinker, part-time forest cryptid from Mohknistsis/Calgary, Treaty 7, Alberta, currently studying communications in Kitchener-Waterloo, Dish with One Spoon Treaty, Ontario, Canada, Turtle Island. The 2022 winner of the Barbara Schneider Writing Award in Communications, faer work focuses on sound studies, nature, queer identities, and Outsider art. Fae have written nonfiction articles for publications as diverse as university campus newspapers (the Gauntlet), the Christian Courier (community newspaper) and filling Station (experimental literature). Faer poetry and prose has appeared in numerous magazines both online and in print, including Canthius, nod, deathcap, the anti-Langurous Project, Lida Literary, Bourgeon, peculiar, Red Coyote, and Tofu Ink. Fae’d like to be reincarnated as a grouse, next time around. You can find faer on Instagram as @sheepiemcgoaters, where fae typically post cups of tea half-drunk and books mostly read.

EDITOR'S SONG PAIRING: Wednesday — Coyote


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