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by nathan erwin

Ross Park Zoo, Binghamton, NY

I told no one, I told no one

I saw the wolf. When I saw

the wolf, it loped with a shine

of tragedy, October, full bellied

red. What are these cages?

My father & his throbbing heart.

While holding my hand,

he couldn’t see the tail or

the switching breeze.

I heard a low, lovely voice,

Before you, I was flame / Before

Before I was smoke /

Inside-out in transmutation, I

snuffed the myth–

the color of trees, the blue light,

my bright dreams – all tricks.

Today, a human boy sat switching

his tail.

I lifted off my pelt,

draped it on the cedar,

and headed south.


Nathan Erwin is a poet in love with place. With a family tree rooted in the North and South, Alabama moonshiners and Vermont dairy farmers, he grew up on Allegheny Plateau, the northernmost tier of Appalachia.

An IAF and Harvard trained organizer, Erwin currently operates at Boston Medical Center to prevent overdose deaths and at the Pocasset Pokanoket Land Trust building healthy futures for farmers and land stewards. His writing has most recently appeared in FOLIO, Willow Springs, Anti-Heroin Chic, and Bombay Gin. His organizing and his poetry are conversant, and so he writes about land, drugs, myths, and wanting.


Image by Bree Anne
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