• Charles Potts w/ Sara Kopeczky

Coyote Highway: Charles Potts


“If a weed is a plant out of place

What then is an animal out of place?”

Last month we interviewed the inimitable Charles Potts, a writer whose voice echoes across the desert in so many ways. The response to the piece has been so inspiring, we’re lucky to feature him once again, this time with a new poem about chance encounters and the toponymy of found and lost selves.

The photo above was captured by one of ZiN Daily’s editors on a road trip through Death Valley, California a few years back. The coyote was standing in the middle of the highway, unafraid of us. Was this a good sign, that the animal had had limited exposure to motor vehicles, or was it a bad sign… that it had become used to traffic and human contact? Shortly after the photo was taken, the coyote lay down on the roadside, yawned at us, and took a nap. We were stunned.

There’s a debate raging in the California courts at the moment, about whether culling coyotes should be allowed, in terms of residents in desert communities being able to trap and euthanize coyotes they see as threats. At the same time, legislation is being considered in New Mexico and elsewhere to outlaw coyote-hunting competitions. As it stands, 400,000 coyotes are killed in the US every year, including 80,000 of them by the US Department of Agriculture.

A coyote on a highway brings many poetic images into consciousness: encounter, survival, crossing, migration.

Who and what do we identify as threats? Where will we meet and how will we interact?

"Ako je korov biljka na pogrešnom mjestu Što je onda životinja na pogrešnom mjestu?"

U veljači smo razgovarali s jedinstvenim Charlesom Pottsom, američkim pjesnikom čiji glas odjekuje široko preko pustinja svih vrsta i oblika. Reakcije na taj razgovor nagnale su nas da ga ponovno predstavimo, ovoga puta i u sjajnom prijevodu Sare Kopeczky (čije pjesme također požurite potražiti na našim stranicama).

Slučajno ili ne, Pottsova poema Autoput kojota stvorila je nekoliko poveznica koje samo potvrđuju relevantnost (sve) poezije na osobnoj, ali i najširoj društvenoj razini. Prije nekoliko godina jedan od urednika ZiN Dailyja putujući kroz kalifornijsku Dolinu smrti snimo je fotografiju koju vidite gore. Kojot na slici stajao je nasred autoputa ne pokazujući ni trunku straha. Je li to bio dobar znak, da je životinja imala malo iskustva s vozilima, ili loš znak... da se potpuno priviknula na promet i ljude. Odmah nakon što je "pozirao" za ovu fotografiju, kojot je, na iznenađenje promatrača, zijevnuo, legao upravo na mjestu na kojem je i snimljen i... zaspao!

Sudovi u Kaliforniji upravo raspravljaju treba li dozvoljavati odstrel kojota, treba li stanovnicima pustinjskih krajeva dopuštati da kojote love zamkama i ubijaju, ako ih smatraju za prijetnju. Istovremeno, u Novom Meksiku razmatraju se zakoni koji bi zabranili natjecanja u lovu na kojote. Naime, samo u SAD-u godišnje se ubije 400.000 kojota (što uključuje i 80.000 jedinki koje se odstrijele po naputku američke Uprave za poljoprivredu).

Slika kojota na autoputu priziva u svijest mnoštvo konotacija i ideja. Ona govori o susretu, opstanku, križanju puteva, migraciji, ali nas ponajprije tjera da razmislimo koga ili što doživljavamo kao prijetnju, gdje ćemo se sresti i na koji način se odnositi prema onome drugom, nepoznatom ili prepoznatom.

Autoput kojota

Za Amalia Maduenu

Štene kojota pretrči cestu

Ravno predamnom pa u polja žita

Vječni kojotski cerek s visećim jezikom

Zamišljam na njegovom licu

Na njenom licu

Kojot ima dva lica

(Kao cesta koja ide u oba smjera

I nigdje u isto vrijeme)

Lice Janusa i drame

Veselja i tuge

Biseksualno i dvospolno

Izbjegavanje embarga na grijeh

Ipak, oduvijek nam je trebala

Takva zabrana

Možemo zahvaliti kojotima

Što se održala.

Unatoč svemu vrijeme je pronašlo moj jezik

Još uvijek u istom tonalitetu

Zalijepljen na smrznutom čeliku.

Nekoliko dana prije požara u Blue Creeku

Štene kojota završilo je pod kotačima

Gotovo na istom mjestu gdje je prelazilo cestu

Nekoliko dana ranije

Janus i srpanj sudarili su se označavajući istovremeno

Početak i kraj.

Ostatak ljeta gledao sam

Kako se kojotovo sićušno krznato tijelo

Sve više utiskuje

U kolnik

Lijepeći ga

Plosnatijeg od tvog oca i mog

Njih dvojica i svi ostali

Pretvorili su se u masnu mrlju kojota i dlake

Nakon predugog podnošenja težine kotača

Stotine vatrogasnih kamiona

Koji dolaze i odlaze prema

Požaru u Blue Creeku

Voze ih pretjerano odjeveni i vatrootporni

Ljudi iz Odjela za prirodne resurse koji se većinom

Pretvaraju da se bore protiv vatre zarobljeni

Snažnijom silom po redu veličine:

Zapravo su se borili protiv (i gubili od) inercije.

2

Požar je podijelio moj život na

Prije i poslije.

Prije požara kojotovo tijelo

Pjevalo je u snu

Zavijajuće glasnice moje vlastite

Čežnje za stapanjem s veličanstvenim

Tempom geološkog vremena.

Nakon požara

Koji je bio prije mjesec dana

A čini se kao da su prošle mnoge godine

Kojot je potrošio

Svoju dobrodošlicu kolniku

Dulje od zdrobljene šape Lorcinog

Mačeta u New Yorku.

Nepravilna masna mrlja

Kojota koji se predaje i prepušta svoj loj

Umjetnoj gumi pri svom susretu sa cestom.

I ja nestajem u mrljama

Jedna revolucija za drugom

Obrtaj za obrtajem

Utisnuti u cestu

Svaka guma prenosi

Moj lik oko

Mill Creek ceste do Walla Walle

Blue Creek je izgorjela uspomena

Posvećena čemu?

Kuće, stabla, zgrade, trava, nekoliko tisuća jutara,

To je nekoć pripadalo meni, mojim prijateljima i životinjama

Tisuću jutara mojih vlastitih borova i jela

Uništio je nemarni farmer dajući

s pšenicom i našu zemlju u izvoz.

Ovaj kojot ne umire od gladi

Nema Nezahualcoyotla na jeziku Nahuatl

Ovaj je kojot izumro

Privremeno ugašen

Vozilom industrijske jačine.

Usprkos embargu na grijeh

Kojot je jači od smrti

I unatoč nestajanju

Nadživjet će cestu.

3

Nisam očekivao da će me ovako utisnuti

Česticu po česticu u asfalt

Raširiti na ljetnoj vrućini.

Nemam pojma što se dogodilo.

Ne znam što me je snašlo.

Odjednom sve je bilo u izmaglici krvi i boli.

Sada sam čuvar ove ceste.

Ne bih mogao ustati čak i kada bih htio.

Nemam noge na kojima bih mogao stajati.

Ne mogu vam reći koliko mi to znači.

Više ne vjerujem ni u što.

S ustima zgnječenim na asfaltu

Dovoljno je teško postrance pljuckati klišeje

I vama bi to bilo teško

Da više nemate zuba.

Ali razmišljao sam o tome.

Mrtav kao pregaženi kojot

Moram vam reći nešto

Što je čekalo sedamdeset ljeta.

Ne možete sići s ove ceste

S polu-kraljevskog puta u propast

Neusporedivog s Via regiom

Cesta do Cibole

El Camino neRealni

Autocesta Kojota.

4

Ako pratite Blue Creek cestu

Dovoljno daleko

Doći ćete do crne šume koja podsjeća na

Stranice istrgnute iz Cormac McCarthyjeve

Ceste.

Svaki spremnik goriva

Svaka vrećica namirnica

Svaki je tekst započet

Uzaludno.

Sve će izgorjeti.

Ja sam barem postao trajni stanovnik.

Ne baš građanin.

Nikada nisam osjećao kao da pripadam ovdje

Tako da sam se nastanio

Iznad i ispod zakona.

Stranac po rođenju u vlastitom vremenu i zemlji.

Dok me nije bilo, došle su kiše

I na kratko se činilo da su otpustile

Moj loj u čestice zemlje

Hraneći obližnji korov.

S obzirom da ne mogu prijeći preko toga

Moram se izdignuti iznad toga

Ponovno položiti svoje pravo na filozofsko prijestolje

Moj praujak Neza postavio je standard.

Potraga za poveznicama

Objektivnim i onim drugima

Ako je korov biljka na pogrešnom mjestu

Što je onda životinja na pogrešnom mjestu?

Tek siroče filozofije

U koju prenizak ne mogu ni zalutati

Moj corpus delicti

Potpuno predan tijelu

Koje još nedostaje, ali još zbraja zločine

Korov koji je nekada nosio krzno

Govori izravno u mikrofon

Ne možeš me dublje razočarati.

Prevela: Sara Kopeczky.

Coyote Highway

For Amalio Madueno

The baby coyote scampering across the road

In front of me and into the wheat fields

Eternal coyote grin of the hanging tongue

I imagined on his face

On her face

A coyote has two faces

(So too the road going both directions

And nowhere simultaneously)

Janus and dramatic

The happy and the sad

Bisexual and two sexual

Scampering sin embargo

Nevertheless there should have always been

An embargo on sin

We have coyotes to thank

For making it stick.

Nevertheless time has found my tongue

Hanging on a key signature

Making it stick on frozen steel.

A few days before the Blue Creek Fire

The coyote pup got ran over

Almost exactly where I’d seen it cross

A few days earlier

In the Janus-in-July crunch signifying both

The beginning and the end.

For the rest of the summer I’ve watched

The coyote’s tiny fur bearing body

Get impressed flatter and flattest

Into the pavement

Making it stick

Flatter than your father and mine

Both of them and all others

Becoming a coyote grease spot with hair

Over time by the over bearing weight of the wheels

Of a hundred fire trucks

Coming and going after

The Blue Creek fire

Driven relentlessly by over-dressed fire-proof

Department of Natural Resource men mostly

Pretending to be fighting fire snared

In a stronger force by orders of magnitude:

They were really fighting (and losing to) inertia.

2

The fire bifurcated my life into

Before and after the fire.

Before the fire the coyote’s body

Sang in its sleep

The howling vocal chords of my signature

Yearning to merge with the magnificent

Tempo of geologic time.

After the fire

Which was a month ago

And feels like many years

The coyote is wearing out

His welcome to the pavement

Beyond the crushed paw of Lorca’s

Kitten in New York.

The intermittent grease stain

Of the coyote surrendering and rendering its fat

To the artificial rubber of its meeting with the road.

I too disappear in stains

One revolution after another

Imprinted on the road

Every tire takes

An image of me around and around

The Mill Creek Road to Walla Walla

Blue Creek a burned out memory

Tributary to what now?

Houses, trees, buildings, grass, several thousand acres,

That used to belong to me, my friends and the animals

A thousand acres of my own pine and fir

Destroyed by a careless wheat farmer

Exporting topsoil.

This coyote is not starving

No Nezahualcoyotl in Nahuatl

This coyote is extinct

Extinguished temporarily by

Industrial strength transportation.

Nevertheless sin embargo

The coyote is stronger than death

And despite its disappearing act

Will outlive the road.

3

I did not expect to be impressed this way

Molecule by molecule into the asphalt

Spread out in the summer heat.

I have no idea what happened.

I don’t know what hit me.

Suddenly everything was a blur of blood and pain.

I am now the watchman of this road.

I couldn’t get up if I wanted to.

I don’t have a leg to stand on.

I can’t tell you how much this means to me.

I don’t believe anything anymore.

With my mouth mashed down into the asphalt

It’s hard enough to spit clichés out sideways

You would find it difficult too

If you no longer had any teeth.

But I’ve been thinking about it.

Dead as a coyote nailed

I have something to tell you

That has waited seventy years of summers.

You can’t get off this road

The semi royal road to ruin

Non-parallel to the King’s Highway

The Road to Cibola

El Camino unReal

Coyote Highway.

4

If you follow the Blue Creek Road

Far enough

You come to a black forest resembling

Pages ripped off Cormac McCarthy’s

The Road.

Every tank of gas

Every bag of groceries

Every text is taken

Up with futility.

It’s all going to burn.

I at least have become a permanent resident.

Not a citizen exactly.

I never felt like I belonged here

So I took up residence both

Above and below the law.

Alien by birth in my own time and country.

While I was gone the rains came

And for a while seemed to loosen

My grease into the aggregate

Nourishing the nearby weeds.

Since I can’t get over it

I have to rise above it

To reassert my claim on the philosophic kingdom

My great uncle Neza set the standard.

A search for correlatives

Objective and otherwise

If a weed is a plant out of place

What then is an animal out of place?

But an orphan of philosophy

I am too short to trespass

My corpus delicti

Completely committed to a body

Still missing but still counting up the crimes

A formerly fur bearing weed

Speaks right into the mike

You can’t let me any farther down.

Originally published in Coyote Highway, Charles Potts, Pleasureville, KY, USA: Least Bittern Books, 2016.

#CharlesPotts #CoyoteHighway #coyotes #California #SaraKopeczky

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