The Poetry And Music Of Coyote Johnson

By MG21 High School Students and Maureen McCollum | June 7, 2019

  • MG21 sophomore Coyote Johnson in the WPR music library during a field trip. (Jenny Peek/WPR)

MG21 sophomore Coyote Johnson in the WPR music library during a field trip. (Jenny Peek/WPR)

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Monona Grove Liberal Arts Charter School sophomore Coyote Johnson does everything. She sings, plays guitar, draws intricate sketches, and she writes poetry in a notebook she carries everywhere.

For this radio project, Coyote wanted to share some of her poems and music. The first one is about being there for herself.


I’ll keep you safe.
I’m here.
Got no one to turn to.
That’s why I gotta learn to rely on myself.
Take care of my health.
I don’t need your help.
So get out of my way, I’ll be OK.
I have my own goddamn pepper spray.


That smell.
The smell brings me back to sleepy mornings in your car with gummy treats you purchased for me from Walmart.
It was my reliable breakfast for so long I took advantage.
That was wrong.
You’re worth more than gummy bears and Twizzler hairs and every other gummy breakfast we had in your comfy car chairs.


This place is draining.
This hair salon makes me want to call my mom.
Your crusty walls tell lies of Wi-Fi passwords.
Your TV won’t stop skipping. Hell, it’s cutting faster and faster. Somebody shut it off!
This isn’t what I thought.
Fuzzy balls of black hair fall to the floor and collect near the edges of the room.
This place needs a f—ing broom.
Should have stayed at home. Want to be alone, forever.
At the other place, it was a whole different case. There, they asked me if I wanted something to drink. Here, I don’t know what to think.
Hairy floor.
Rusted door.
So much more extension cords.
Walls that were clearly once white now painted with colors that just might be bodily fluids.
It’s the kind of place that makes you feel sticky.
All I can do is wait three hours and leave quickly.
Interesting smells send questions through my head that I don’t want the answers to.


My body’s tired but my mind is racing.
Heart is chasing old memories of time in which I was wasting.

MG21 sophomore and artist Coyote Johnson records her poetry in WPR's studios. (Maureen McCollum/WPR)

MG21 sophomore and artist Coyote Johnson records her poetry in WPR’s studios. (Maureen McCollum/WPR)


“Shoes Without Holes”


I used to wear shoes without holes.
Every year, Dad would supply each of us with two pairs of shoes: one for gym and one for looking nice.
Ever since he joined money stashes with Her, their money became her money and I’d wear my old shoes that didn’t fit anymore. I’d wear them until my toes poke out the front.
I used to wear shoes without holes, back when my dad took care of us.
Now he follows orders, hoards his cash, and spoils Peanut, her daughter.
She has seven pairs of shoes.
One for hiking to help her walk for miles to adventure.
One for fashion to look nice with an outfit.
One for gym to keep her running.
One for the beach to keep her feet from burning on the hot sand. One for swimming to keep her feet away from any sharp rocks in the water.
One for rain to keep her feet dry.
And one for occasions for when it’s appropriate.
But I’ll still sit here with my soaking wet socks drenched from the holes in my shoes.
I used to wear shoes that holes.
My feet would stay nice and dry.
I’d splash in the puddles without a fear because I trusted my shoes without holes.


“Stuck On You”

Coyote Johnson wrote this song and recorded it in WPR’s studios. (The following audio contains language that some may find objectionable.)


Coyote Johnson plays guitar and recorded her song "Stuck On You" in WPR's studios. (Maureen MCCollum/WPR)

Coyote Johnson plays guitar and recorded her song “Stuck On You” in WPR’s studios. (Maureen MCCollum/WPR)

Hear from more MG21 students throughout the year on “Wisconsin Life” and on the special, “Classroom Frequency: Student Voices From Wisconsin.”

MG21 High School

MG21 High School Students

During the 2018-2019 school year, Monona Grove Liberal Arts Charter School, or MG21, high school students created radio pieces for Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Wisconsin Life.” The final stories were featured on the radio and online through the “Classroom Frequency: Student Voices From Wisconsin” project.
Maureen McCollum

Maureen McCollum

Maureen McCollum is the host and producer for “Wisconsin Life” on Wisconsin Public Radio and the “WPR Reports: Uprooted” podcast. Her work has appeared on NPR and has been honored with national and regional awards. She loves live music, the bluffs along the Mississippi River and eating too much cheese.
2019-06-08T06:24:13-05:00Tags: , , , , , , , |

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