The Ballad of the Central Park Coyote

The moon hung thick and creamy in the cool Manhattan night.
The uptown streets lay dreamy in the subtle lemon light.
Then concrete canyons echoed to a most un-urban bark:
a lone coyote’d somehow found its way to Central Park.

Did you swim the Harlem River? Cross the Henry Hudson Bridge?
Did you wander down from Westchester, from forest or from ridge?
Were you pushed out by construction? Were you following a scent?
Were you here to go out on the town—a New York trip well spent?

Soon reports came pouring in—some joggers caught a peep.
It was seen near the Sheep Meadow (some decades late for sheep).
From the beat of Spanish Harlem down to Midtown’s glitzy bounds,
through lawn and bush and bramble, our coyote made its rounds.

The Mayor and the Parks Commish both started in to fret—
“We can’t have that thing out there, it might eat someone’s pet.”
They swung right into action, and quickly set their plans—
they rounded up a posse: rangers, marksmen, vets, and vans.

They found it in a stretch of wood where it had tried to hide;
it led them on a merry chase across the park’s south side.
They got the critter cornered by the lake near Woolman Rink.
They shot it with a sedative; it jumped into the drink.

It swam, then ran a dozen blocks, policemen on its tail.
As it approached the Bandshell, its strength began to fail.
When it collapsed, they hauled it off to meet its newest fate:
a stop at the Bronx Zoo, then a release somewhere upstate.

An unexpected tourist, you had your taste of fame.
The Central Park Coyote: all New Yorkers know your name.
Were you a trickster spirit, come to claim your rangelands back?
Were you a lone explorer—or a vanguard of the pack?

--Tony Hoffman


Published in Tucumcari Literary Review

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