by Patrick Tang. For more information, visit

by Patrick Tang. For more information, visit

The Coyotes Are Back

by Michael Gentry

The coyotes are back. It happens every winter; they get hungry and bold. Their screams and howls start softly in the distance. Then, as the clock steadily turns the night over, they get close. They come up from the coulee, traveling stealthily through the orchard. This gives them cover.  But they aren’t scared. They aren’t shy.

Their squeals purposefully beckon a brave dog, my dog, to challenge them. They’ll send up one or two decoys to tempt and taunt. Once the decoys have lured a fearless, protective dog across his property line and into the orchard, they attack from all angles. Even though Yogi, my chocolate lab, is much larger, stronger than them, his courage and loyalty become his greatest weaknesses. Coyotes know they are no match in a straight up fight. Yogi knows this too. If Yogi were to advance, the coyotes would retreat, luring him deeper into the black of the night. They’d attack. They’d clamp onto his legs, tail, and lock their jaws. They’d use their dead weight to drag him down. Once he was down, they’d go for his throat.  Then he’d have no chance.

Yogi seems smarter than my past dogs. He has yet to cross the property line. He’ll toe the dirt road dividing my property and the orchard with precision, never crossing. The coyote’s shrieks will get louder. Their shadows dart in and out of the trees.  Yogi bounces on his front paws, his large, square head jerking with each low bark. They’ve yet to cross the dusty road too. But, I think if the winter gets cold enough, if they get hungry, desperate enough, they will.


About Michael Gentry

Michael Gentry lives and works in Eastern Idaho. He received a B.S. in English Education from Brigham Young University-Idaho and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from National University. He is currently ABD in an education doctoral program from the University of Idaho.  Michael teaches basic writing classes at BYU-Idaho.

2 Responses to “Essay”

  1. tamaramilessc

    This is wonderful, especially because of our coyote connection. :>) I’ve shared on Twitter and will also share on FB. Here’s something you might find intriguing. A friend of mine told me a few weeks ago that a coyote suddenly showed up in his yard, which has never happened before although he lives way out in the country. I pulled out my “Coyote, Trickster” poem and read it to him, and we talked about how the coyote might have been a sign for him, a symbol or something. The next day, Animal sent me the note that the poem would be published. It was eerie.

    I look forward to seeing more of what you’re writing.



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