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Saturday, January 16, 2021


by Phyllis Wax

who rouse fear—                                                           
the Egyptian cobra, the black mamba,                                                  
the pit vipers of Pakistan and Afghanistan—                                        
and nativists lump the unfamiliar benign 
with these toxic snakes, want to fence them all out. 
But what about the homegrown “patriots”—the domestic
side-armed sidewinding rattler, chattering and clattering           
its venomous views, sowing discord wherever  it chooses?

What about the skin-headed southern cottonmouth
with its deceptive languid accent and aggressive
lashing out?  The klanned coral snake, venomous,         
yet anonymous?  The paranoid tea-                                
stained copperhead?  The credulous shrug them off,                        

consider them crazies,
not dangerous species
to be monitored and tracked.

They slither from under rocks and brush piles                            
in the western hills, cluster in nests in lowland swamps,
ooze out of slimy mics all over the homeland.
The willfully oblivious ignore them—              
even when they rear back and strike.                                                                                                     

Phyllis Wax writes in Milwaukee, WI, where she is now watching in horror as the homegrown snakes are all slithering out at once. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, both online and in print.