Daily Archives: August 1, 2016

Song For A Snake To Hum

Originally posted 6/5/2005.  From comments on the original post, I’m pretty sure I was in Orlando FL at the time I wrote this. Probably a business trip back in those days.  Not that it matters.

there are places like this
there have always been places 
just like this
where snakes
hold their tails in their mouths

you’d think that people seeing them
would stop pretending that
there is no proof
that every beginning 
contains its end

but people keep saying
if it happened
where’s the proof
that it happened

a snake eating
its own tail?
seems that would be
enough proof

but what happens
is that people
not trusting that what happens
happens and happens
again and again
not trusting those who tell them
that what happens happens
and happens again
and again
demand plural immediate unshakeable proofs
and though such things are common
any wait at all
allows them to forget and deny
that it ever happened

now we are here and
here’s another snake
reaching around himself
his tail wet from 
poison mouth

this is how things end and begin

how it happens
and happens and happens
again and again

this is a song for a snake to hum
as it waits patiently
for lessons to be learned
and things to stop happening
again and again and again

so it can stop biting its own tail
so it can stop dying

Bucket List

I find a small notebook
at a yard sale table.

A sheet falls out, words
at the top: “Bucket List.”

I note check marks in front of
“visit Europe,” “go deep sea fishing,”

“climb Twin Mountain.”  Left unchecked:
“learn to dance the tarantelle,” “complete

master’s degree,” “reconcile
with Marie.” There are others 

as well but I note only the last item,
and the check before it:

“go back and kill
the rest of those bastards.”

I ask the seller
where she got the notebook and

she says it was her father’s,
was in his effects when he died. She’s

come North to handle his estate
and these items today

are the last things to be sold
before she goes home.  

I do not ask if she’d looked through
that book before selling.

I do not ask her name.
I do not ask how her father died.

I tuck the sheet back into 
the notebook and offer her

a price for it as a lot with 
a pair of worn leather belts

and a box of shot glasses
from various tourist spots. 

She agrees
and I take it all home.  

I lay that book in my firepit
and turn it into ash.

I call my father.

We talk for a long time
and make peace between us.

I cannot sleep tonight.
I pour shots into 

Niagara Falls and
Carlsbad Cavern glasses,

wondering who
the bastards were and if

they still walk the earth,
if their children understand

and love them, or are they
childless, or alone now,

writing fearful words
in small notebooks

no one else
is ever supposed to see.