h a b i t u a t e by stevie redwood

you sprawl across the thistle of a weedy slope, 
bones splayed over the hill-belly,
friends beyond your fingertips.
fog between your teeth. 
you watch a scant coyote 
feebling along the flank. 
too much rib, 
less feral than winter. 
pluto yoking at the sun. light out 
of reach. this will become another day 
you don’t want to remember. 
it’s lucky you’re wired 
for forgetting. your housekeys,
the trash you didn’t take out,
gas stove still lit. 
the way it smelled right before burning. 
the people you’ve lost. been. 
the ease of loving 
more than you fear. 
that one night. 
that other one. 
those blank many years. your friends 
capture the coyote in the crosshairs 
of their cameras & you pluck dandelion 
after dandelion from the dirt. 
on the ridge-hip, the coyote stills. 
her knees are brittle, giving, 
failing. too many hands 
have tendered her. 
too many humans 
have rendered her 
tame. habituated,
she belongs to no one, 
belongs to everyone
before herself. 
she looks familiar. she looks like someone 
you forgot. she looks your way 
& you look around,
eyes dilated, reflecting 
dandelion manes. you twist one off at the neck 
& raise it to your lips. blow. watch the plume 
shatter into fragments of a fortune. 
the scatter of a wish. don’t tell anyone
your friend warns, or it won’t come true. 
you know this is a false story
& say nothing. you’ve learned keeping quiet 
makes other people’s wishes truer, 
that things held below the tongue 
are the slowest seething pill.
the coyote opens her mouth, 
her throat, perfectly hollow & void
of howl. she has forgotten how to make something 
out of breathing. she tries, again. again,
percussing into the wind. toneless,  
beautiful as rubble. wretched as dust. 

stevie redwood is a sino-jewish neuroemergent introvert genderpervert homotrash littledreamer bigmouth freak living & dying on Yelamu Ohlone land (San Francisco, CA). they like shittalk, porchsitting, leaflitter, & riffraff. find them trolling yimbys on twitter @trash_whisperer

Vagabond City Literary Journal

Founded in 2013, we are a literary journal dedicated to publishing outsider literature. We publish art, prose, reviews, and interviews from marginalized creators.