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Dumb Luck: Sam Hamill’s Weasel, Crow and Coyote on the Dharma Trail

Several years ago, I had some dumb luck; it was on a Saturday, May 12, 2012 to be exact. I went to Zinc Bar off of Washington Square for a poetry reading, but I had the time wrong; it was tomorrow. But in a bookish mood, on my way back home, I stopped at Mercer Street Books to look for Elinor Wylie, my current poet quest. She wasn’t there, but among the poets I found Toby Olson, a book of his, Unfinished Building. I’d known Toby in Philadelphia, and took the book from the shelf. Then I saw David Ignatow, New and Collected Poems 1970 – 1985, a poet I liked but really didn’t know, although we’d often been in the same room. And then I saw Dumb Luck, a book by Sam Hamill, whom I’d recently become friends with on Facebook, a poet I’d never met or known. So I bought three books when I hadn’t planned on buying anything but Elinor Wylie. Happily I stopped for a vodka, happy hour, at the Boiler Room, a gay bar on 3rd Street in the East Village, talking to some off Broadway actors and reading Sam Hamill whose book had a lovely feel and look. There was also a poem of haikus called 15 Stitches, and one especially

The seventieth
day of bombing Kosovo
mouse turds in the oats

made me stop and think and marvel at. I really enjoyed the Coyote, Weasel, Crow fable too, good sturdy language that flowed. I was having more fun reading poems than I had in a long time, and planned then to make a vimeo out of the fable. Here it is now, September 20, 2014, and I have finally done it. I always like to think that all things come to those who wait, although I think the dead might disagree.


A weasel went out
one day and saw a large crow
dancing in the dust.
“Ha-ha,” the crow cried, “Ha-ha.”
Poor weasel, not speaking crow

thought the old crow
was humiliating him.
“I’ll get you for that,”
he barked. “I’ll gnaw on your bones!”
Weasel crouched low in the grass

and slowly crept close.
But when he made his great leap
he came up with dust.
“I’ll get you for that,” he barked
retreating into shadows.

Crow bobbed on his bough.
“Ha-ha, Ha-ha,” he bellowed.
Weasel leaped again
snapping the air with his jaws.
“You arrogant prick!” he screamed.

“I’ll get you for that!”
Far off another crow called.
“What’s all the ruckus?”
Crow chuckled and replied, “Just
stupid weasel eating dust.

I tried to warn him
about Coyote,” Crow called
but all he wanted
was to eat me, then got mad
when I escaped. What a fool!”

Weasel slunk away
with his tail between his legs.
Crow called Coyote,
“Hey old friend, here comes Weasel
all tired out from meanness.

I tried to warn him
but he’s too mean to listen.”
Coyote grinned. He
licked his chops and sniffed the air.
“The angry ones are easiest.”

Poet and publisher, founding editor of Copper Canyon Press, translator, mover and shaker, advocate for poetry and for peace, Sam Hamill has his collected poems, HABITATION, available now, published by Long Horse Press:


Lost Horse Press
105 Lost Horse Lane
Sandpoint, Idaho 83864
(208) 255-4410
(208) 255-1560 Fax

Best to go to your local bookstore and order it, but you can find it, along with Sam’s other books, at Amazon.com.

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