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Featured Poem II • January 2018

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Legends of Coyote Creek
Part 1: The Wall of Monsters

 

Donald Raymond

 
 

Never mind what they eat— these myths can live for years on rocks and cattails, tips of willow twigs, growing gaunt with famine, hunger honed by hate, their clutching hands like ankle-breaking vines, waiting for sunset’s dying light to touch the trees scurry away home; best be back before dark catches you alone. At world’s edge there lingers the liminal hill of childhood’s geography—a home to monsters, malicious, malformed, green-eyed guardians of some unspeakable threshold. Beyond that place, our maps are empty spaces: the Elder Brothers tell us tales we scarcely credit: “Remember Little Billie? Before your time . . .” Before we came upon this place, its stories traps for those too young to fear them—forgotten friends fallen prey to farmers clutching shotguns in thick bone-snapping hands, the ghost mist gliding along the river’s edge, or witches wailing for their own lost children. Nonsense, your parents will say: Little Billy moved away, and Dougie lives just down the block, there’s nothing to fear but life itself—that’s what they always say, in the stories, when they’d rather be rid of you. Parents and monsters are always in cahoots: sending the bad ones to their fate, so the rest will eat their vegetables. Safer to stay in some Known Place: this ribbon of water and land between the overpass and the Wall of Monsters. And only during the day, until, as years pass by your own gang moves away, and leaves you with nothing left to fear, but life itself. Another batch of wide-eyed wonderers comes along, to shiver at your stories. Until you mount the Wall, free of goblins, finally, to find the ones who dwelled on the other side, their rumors of mysteries lurking in the place you left behind.

 

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Donald Raymond lives in the tiny hamlet of Alturas, CA, where he works as an accountant at the local casino, which is not a career path his counselors had ever mentioned to him. He spends his free time mediating the Machiavellian feline politics of his household. You can read more of his work at Star*Line, the Saturday Evening Post and Everyday Fiction. He also once didn’t make a left turn at Albuquerque.

About the origins of this poem, he wrote, “Coyote Creek is a golf course now, but when I was a younger, it was a fetid swamp veritably teeming with witches, ghosts, and monsters, all just waiting to devour any child dumb enough to wander down there without his older sister. This poem is a look back at those stories as an adult, and realizing that some of the wonder and magic of childhood was due to the fact that we were gullible idiots. I would like to dedicate it to the memory of my sister Linda Glos, who first warned me about the Greeneyes.”

 

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