Least loved beasts

  • OPEN WIDE: Coyote pup

    Erwin and Peggy Bauer photo
  -A coyote danced. Perhaps not. Reason tells me that he was catching his breakfast. Voles, moles, meadow mice, ground squirrels, chipmunks, and other rodents abound in the Sierra meadows. But still, his dance was a study in grace and sinuous acrobatics: A leap to clear the grass, a pounce, a toss of the head and a wriggle of the hips ... At each movement dew flew from the grasses into the air around him, glittering in sprays of silver droplets ..."

* from Coyote Dancer,

by May L. Lenzer

The anthology Least Loved Beasts of the Really Wild West: A Tribute finds virtue in coyotes, tarantulas, rattlesnakes, mice, other many-legged creatures and even a gelatinous invertebrate dubbed a "tank thing." Editors Terril Shorb and Yvette Schnoeker-Shorb have selected poems and essays that bring us close to these non-charismatic fauna, selecting essays and poems by Ursula K. Le Guin, Paul Schullery, Greg Kosmicki and Gayle Silva, among many others. Perhaps it is not surprising that some writers see the West's least noticed wildlife with an urban eye, though not so long ago the comparisons usually went the other way. Are we doomed to now know wild animals mainly as roadkill or when our neighbors poison them? The observers in this little book still find the clicks and croaks of ravens fascinating, the sight of a snake engrossing.

Native West Press, Box 12227, Prescott, AZ 86304. Paper: $8.95. 154 pages.

*Matt Welter

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