Monday, October 17, 2011

Left to the whims of elements

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King Of California


It will surely be gone by morning, what I saw
coiled in the road on the way up the hill tonight.
Some owl or coyote will find it, a rat perhaps,
and it will make for a cold small morsel. It was
the first of its kind I’ve come across this season.
Someone in their haste either didn’t see it trying
to cross the road, its marked rings unmistakably
serpentine, a little king of California barely a foot
in length, bleeding out there in the lane, caught
by its own misfootedness as it searched the creek
or tomato field for the smallness of mice along
the glass meridian of its rough belly, scenting by
the minutest quaver, the instinctive twitch, the
scurried rustle, the signature that spells organic
combustion within living biology, the abatement
of hunger that forks the will to do what it must.

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I stopped to look down at it, observe if there might
yet be any snake left, but there wasn’t. Too much
had leaked out to glisten under the sweep of my
headlights, would continue to under a three-quarter
moon after I closed the car door to leave it with a,
Poor fella.” So many kings have been left behind
with far less. The one in the temple ruins, the one
on that small hill of crosses. This one will be left
to the whims of elements as all the others were.
No prayer to sweeten the journey, no song to
sugar the tremble of scale or shiver of bone, no
disciple to carry the spirit of a message that was
never left beyond repeating that a snake of kings
was killed tonight, that’s all, a poor king of snakes.

Joseph Gallo
October 16, 2011


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