Poem of the Week | February 03, 2020

This week’s Poem of the Week is “The Dragon and the Coyote” by Jose Hernandez Diaz!

Jose Hernandez Diaz is a 2017 NEA Poetry Fellow. He’s the author of The Fire Eater (Texas Review Press, 2020). His work appears in The Acentos Review, Bennington Review, Cincinnati Review, Electric Literature, Huizache, Iowa Review, The Nation, Poetry, Poetry Northwest, The Progressive, The Southeast Review, Witness, and in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2011. He has served as poetry editor for Lunch Ticket and editorial intern for Floricanto Press. He tweets at @JoseHernandezDz.


The Dragon and the Coyote

A man looked into a mirror, but he didn’t recognize himself. Instead, he saw a dragon and a coyote engaged in a game of chess. The dragon moved first: middle pawn, two spaces. Then the coyote parroted the move. They stared into each other’s eyes. Neither budged.

After three hours, they called it a draw. The dragon flapped its scarlet wings, and flew toward a nearby mountain. The coyote howled a lullaby. When the man eventually stopped looking into the mirror, he realized he was the dragon. And he was the coyote. It’s always been that way.


Author’s Note

I don’t want to get into too much of an explanation of the work. I think with surreal prose poems it is best when the reader comes up with the interpretation/meaning/sentiment. I will say, however, that dragons in my view are thought of as mighty and majestic, while coyotes are thought of as a bit of a scavenger/sly species. This man, in the mirror, sees himself in both species/beasts, simultaneously.