Back to Stories

The Trickster Renders Us Invisible

Lois Red Elk writes a poem about coyote that reminds how the essence of being is not material, but everything else

Coyote photo courtesy Rene Rauschenberger (Pixabay/Creative License)
Coyote photo courtesy Rene Rauschenberger (Pixabay/Creative License)

Hello MoJo Friends,

The  fire smoke here on the prairie has been bad and harmful for a long stretch of summer into autumn. I had to take a break and did some traveling. It was good to see other people and a different landscape. I was lecturing, visiting, counseling, more visiting and then went to ceremony. And I wrote 10 poems—poems of a different message.

I am sharing one of them with you this month.

Take care,

"The Trickster," a painting by Randal M. Dutra. To see more of his work go to
"The Trickster," a painting by Randal M. Dutra. To see more of his work go to

Coyote Invisible

by Lois Red Elk

Coyotes prowl the low ground, to understand
the process of potential maneuvers, or how long
it takes to become a tale.  He figures he has come
to some sense of understanding of how one
set of nerves at a time senses another, a different
kind of shift, how emotions might carry over,
how to allow self-protection to become slowly
unraveled, exposed.  It wasn’t the muscle or skin,
or the worn out tissue.  It was bone, the type located
in center of structure—where it all begins.  It was
there where each joint rotates, opens and can’t
retract.  That place is the connection to how it
begins and where it all will end.  It is where the
unseen raw nerves sit, under each layer of defense,
where the scraggily dog, the trickster laughs with
all faces of the moon.  He plans and waits patiently
for the appropriate time to steal parts of the skeletal,
frame, to haul off some of the choice, small pieces
of private, personal being.  You never expect to
lose any of what you are made of, not to an old dog,
or whatever name he calls himself this time around. 
Did you say this time?  Has this happened before? 
Did you not learn what the last hunger did to your
privacy, your skin, the way your cavities were pried
open, how your frame, eye sockets, cranial emotions
were drained, how you were left invisible?
©Lois Red Elk

: We are pleased that Lois is working away on a new collection of poems and will let you know when it is published. In the meantime, ask for her other volumes at your favorite local bookseller: Our Blood Remembers, winner of the best non-fiction award from Woodcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers; Dragonfly Weather; and Why I Return to Makoce with a foreword from Montana's recent state poet laureate Lowell Jaeger and nominated for a High Plains Book Award in poetry.  Given headlines that continue to appear about the discoveries of new atrocities committed at boarding schools for indigenous children, we encourage you to read Lois' contribution to MoJo that appeared in June, The Unspeakable Past Of Indian Boarding Schools 

Make sure you never miss a Lois Red Elk poem by signing up for Mountain Journal's free weekly newsletter. Click here: 

Lois Red Elk-Reed
About Lois Red Elk-Reed

Lois Red Elk-Reed is a poet who calls the high plains home. She is Mountain Journal's poet in residence.
Increase our impact by sharing this story.
Defending Nature

Defend Truth &
Wild Places


Related Stories

January 7, 2018

What Do The Long-term Trends For Grizzlies In Lower 48 Really Look Like?
MoJo columnist Lance Olsen says climate change and human development trends create a lot of uncertainty for Great Bears south of...

June 4, 2022

The Eternal Sacred Dwells In This Moment
Lois Red Elk writes and speaks using the ancient human language of the continent. In her latest poem, she offers a...

October 2, 2021

Scientists Say Gianforte's Anti-Wolf, Anti-Grizzly Policies In Montana Have No Scientific Basis
Prominent group of wildlife professionals with 1,500 years of experience condemn Montana's new laws targeting wolves. Already pups from popular Yellowstone...