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2022 Winner: Mark MacAllister, Quiet Men and Their Coyotes

 Mark MacAllister

Mark MacAllister

After a difficult deliberation, Judge Lana Hechtman Ayers selected as winner: Quiet Men and Their Coyotes by Mark MacAllister of Pittsboro, NC.

Lana notes: “The descriptions in this collection are rich, multi-layered, and completely immersive. I kept going back and rereading all the poems.”

Mark MacAllister lives in Pittsboro, North Carolina and travels widely in the backcountry of the Upper Midwest. His poems appear or are forthcoming in several journals, including Steam Ticket, Quiet Diamonds, The Journal of Undiscovered Poets, Deep Wild: Writing From the Backcountry and Passager Journal. For nearly 40 years his professional work has focused on the conservation of wildlands and wildlife.

“A loud heart lives inside these shimmering poems that nudge us awake with wonder. How fortunate we are to accompany Mark MacAllister into all the places he inhabits so fully, to hear with him the music of the woods, the ghost notes hovering over creeks, to visit the faces of the loved and lost, to stare into the eyes of what is wild and grow grateful for these abundant moments that teach us to sit still, to listen longer, to be more alive again.”

—Matt Cashion, author of Last Words of the Holy Ghost

Excerpt from Quiet Men and Their Coyotes

Quiet Men and Their Coyotes

Being curious coyote will follow
at a distance and for some miles
stop to drink at the creek long after you cross
trot to catch sight again

you both startle at the same wood grouse
bend to consider bear scat aside the trail
as expected he often wanders ahead
but the grass is matted where he waited

tonight as your one-log fire dims
reach deep into your belly and pull forth
a whine that drops hard into a howl
string it out long as you are able 
until the hair on your neck lies back down
despite all the time spent together
this is the only sound you have offered him

coyote cannot resist and chuckle-barks an answer
then remembers to cut his voice short
you are surprised that he gave away his place
his heart breaks to learn you are as lonely as he is

Quiet Men and Their Coyotes


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2022 Runners-Up
Victoria Wyttenberg
Martha Christina
A Bird Watching
In the Company of Finches
2022 Finalists
Lillo Way
Neil Carpathios
Vince Montague
Martin Willetts Jr
Mary Rummel
Greek Boy
Next Door
The Quiet Moments of Surprises
Such Wind-Noise of Naming