Monday’s Rune: Sudden Snake Story


Watch My Step

On a recent sunny Spring morning I walked comfortably along the yellowish-brown path of a meadow trail. I thought I saw a snake stretched calmly across my path. The trail ground cover and snake were much the same texture and color. I removed my sunglasses, moved closer, and looked directly at whatever it was.

Sure enough, a three-to-four-foot-long Texas rattlesnake, one of our ten species, was calmly holding its head up and making eye contact. It was not coiled-up or making threatening rattle noises. I noticed its tongue sensing the air. Otherwise, it was motionless.

I decided the snake was probably a female, not that I could tell. I’ve always had better luck with female mammals, why not reptiles? It’s difficult to determine a snake’s sex unless you are an expert, a snake, or have a sexing kit. They cost about $70, if you have a need to know and are willing to get more up close and personal with snakes than most folks are, be my guest. That optimistic conclusion helped to keep me calm.

However, I was shocked when the snake spoke to me. She said, “Please, don’t make me move. It’s early and I’m still cold.”

I stepped back and looked around. I tried to speak but I only stammered stupid nothings. I wasn’t afraid and thought it might be a trick. Imagine speaking to any animal. My skepticism must have showed.

“Oh, please,” she hissed, “everyone knows snakes talk. The Bible? Eve? Don’t make me do that bite thing. Humans taste like soap. We don’t like doing that.”

No way! A talking snake. Unbelievable (except biblically).

I hoped no one would hear me, “So, what is your name? What should I call you?

She seemed to smile, “Call me Metaphor. We don’t use names. But, since I’m blocking your progress for a while, it’s apropos, don’t you think? What is your name?”

Holy shit. A philosophical, talking rattlesnake.

“I’m Bill. Do you want me to leave?”

She answered, “Not really. If you’re uncomfortable, walk around me and get on with your life. I’ll do the same. If someone else comes by, it may not go this well. But if you have a few minutes, let’s talk. Think of it as a game.”

Good grief. A fucking philosophical, bible-wise, talking lady-snake who wants to play mind games with me.

She seemed to like me. Other than Eve, who has ever encountered a talking animal? Ok, maybe the fish in that Hemmingway book. Wait. No, never mind. Now that I think about it, talking animals are everywhere in literature, TV, and movies. I couldn’t just up and leave without regrets.

She asked, “Which do you fear more, other humans, aggressively growling dogs, or snakes?”

I admitted it. Snakes scare me. “No dog has bitten me since childhood. People seem safe enough.”

“Why is that?” she asked, “Have you ever been harmed by a snake?”

I could see where her ‘game’ was headed. “I don’t know why. That is how it is with most people. No. I’ve never been harmed by a snake.”

She asked, “Has any human being ever harmed you in any way?”

“Of course.” I said, “Many times. We’re not very kind to each other. Humans have harmed me or threatened to do so.”

Then she asked, “Of the three, you fear least your own species even though they are the ones who have harmed you most?”

“That’s true. But most people seem harmless. I feel safe, most of the time.”

“How many people in your life have been killed by dogs?” she asked.

I replied, “Certain breeds and certain dogs can be dangerous. Most animal pets are innocuous, including pet snakes.”

“That’s my point, Bill. Some dogs, people, and snakes are dangerous. But everyone and everything is not out to get you. I can tell you are not worried about me, nor need I be concerned about you. It’s called discernment. You do that with people and dogs. Try it with snakes. Now we both better get going before someone comes. I enjoyed our little game. Goodbye, Bill.”

We maintained eye contact as I walked around her, getting no closer than she was long. I turned and walked away. It’s always best to let nature, dogs, snakes, and other people do the talking. When I listen, I learn.


Look both ways crossing meadows and encountering other beings in life.
Mind the gaps and learn your lessons well.

NaPoWriMo April 2022 (Day 29)

Click for the prompt page and more.

Today, I was to write a poem where I muse on the gifts I received at birth.


Forbidden to Miners

I call for my childhood muse
to whisper of the child, to
remind me, as Mnemosyne, goddess
of memory, me within and without,
of sorrows and gifts and that I am

a coal miner’s son, given blessings
and burdens, Irish Catholic (then),
yet named for mother’s father,
a Welsh Presbyterian, a coal man; me,
youngest with three half-blood sibs.

First of family raised by both parents,
by father’s discipline tempered
by mother’s love; I, imperfect in this
less perfect world, a boomer now,
some say a most hated gen.

No special gift, proudly average,
a boy being a boy, some friends,
learner of the hard way, too afflicted
by others, not an unhappy child,
but happy to have survived to 75.

Kismet, space dust, late bloomer,
they gave me life, what happened after
was up to me. Made good and done bad,
but here I am writing about it. A poet?
That was neither planned nor expected.


Look both ways. Try to remember.
But, above all, tell your story.
Mind the gaps and fill them as best you can.

NaPoWriMo April 2022 (Day 25)

Click to open the prompt page and links to more poems in new tab.

Today, my NaPoWriMo assignment is based upon an Irish poetic genre called aisling. An aisling recounts a dream or vision featuring a woman who represents the land or country (typically Ireland) on/in which the poet lives, and who speaks to the poet about it. I had the option to write a poem that recounts a vision of a woman who represents or reflects where I live: Texas.


la dama de texas

I looked, but bright sunlight and a vast blue sky
tempered my curious gaze over her vast wonderment.
She was like a kaleidoscope of diversity,
capricious changes over her sensuous body
constantly looming; inviting, yet hostile.

Her hair was a big thicket of trees:
pecan, oak, palm, cedar, and holly;
her brows were of pine, and elm above
lashes of ash and cherry, anaqua and yaupon.
Her brown skin and dark eyes testify
to her Mexican heritage, her breath was of
sweet orchid, redbud, and magnolia. Temptress,
with a capital T.

Her breasts were like mountain ranges:
Chisos, Guadalupe, Franklin, and Davis;
at her sides and hips Chinati, Boquillas,
Hueco, Christmas, and the lower Palo Pintos.

In her swaying curves the hidden canyons:
Palo Duro, Santo Elena, and Mariscal with
the jewels of caprocks, pinnacles, and hoodoos.

At her back, the Llano Estacado horizon rolled
smoothly into her Balcones Escarpment to
plateaus named for Edwards and Stockdon.

The moist whites of her eyes shown like cotton bolls,
lids like sandy beaches, her fingers like rivers:
the Pedernales, Neches, Trinity, Comal,
Brazos and the majestic and mysterious Rio Grande.
Her arms were like Devils River and the Pecos.
Her desert skin shimmered like moist sand.

I saw her holding an abundance of animals
and insects that staggered me.
The diversity of people standing in her shadow,
waving their ubiquitous flags, while protected by her,
spoke languages mixed with southern or western dialects.

Beneath her beauty, a sweetened but exaggerated history
belied the truth of a dark, slavishly embarrassing past.

An enigma with something for everyone
yet comfort for only a friendly few.
I’ll take Texas over Hell
with my eyes wide open.
She said I may stay,
but only if I see things her way. I try.


Look both ways to see the good and the bad.
Mind the gaps and accept the facts.
Everyone must be somewhere, even if they’re going nowhere.

Those are miles! It seems like a long drive, but it’s only about 10 hours if you go 90 miles per hour non-stop.

Sammi’s Weekender #256 (provocative)

Click on Sammi’s graphic to open her blog and links to more provocative writing.

Now or Never

Sometimes, I thoughtlessly
sit down, grab my pen or something,
and dash one off.

Without thought, form, or plan,
I’ve lost control.
No time for provocative,
deep thoughts.

It’s just me in my do it now mode.
There’s no stream or flow of consciousness,
it happens without reservation,
absent of awareness,
I’ve no muse’s prompt.

When I’m done,
I turn the page.


Look both ways and write it fast, get it down,
save the insane. Mind the gaps and traps of the mind.

NaPoWriMo April 2022 (Day 16)

Click the graphic to find the prompt page and more poems.

Today, I was to write a curtal sonnet. That is a variation of a (real) 14-line sonnet. Both are fixed verse forms with rhyming according to a prescribed scheme. I hope you’re not holding your breath.

A curtal sonnet is a curtailed or contracted sonnet. It has 11 lines with two optional rhyming schemes. I see it as a mathematical variation of a six and five (or four and a half) line reduced sonnet form. I consider any sonnet brief, so a curtal sonnet is a reduction of a reduced form. This may be the only one I ever write. Nothing said it had to be good.


By Reason of Conclusion

My search for some gods needs logical proof,
To arrive at most honest conclusions
From science I seek logical answers
To discover reality and truth.

Turn scripture from some reasoned confusion
Thumb through pages, bemusing all chances
None of this explains your absence of love
If my mind can manage not being so
Show me now please, your better solution.

Given you by a deity above
Now you know, I am a pro.


Look both ways because at the end of the day,
a poor poem beats nothing at all.
Mind the gaps.

NaPoWriMo April 2022 (Day 14)

Click to open the prompt page and find links to other poems for this prompt.

Today’s NaPoWriMo assignment completed the first two weeks of writing a poem each day during April. Also called the “optional” daily prompt, it was (“a fun one”) to write a poem in the form of the opening scene of the movie about my life.

I contemplated possibilities and searched for ideas when I came upon the opening scene for the movie, My Life Without Me. It inspired me to shed self-awareness and identity with confused limited personal pronouns, to message with metaphor and simile, and to use immature grammar while maintaining context.

Cinematically, the movie would open with fuzzy, abstract, calm, overlapping, multiple images of a young child standing in the rain, eyes closed, oblivious to life and environment (but not in the poem). A faint heartbeat would be heard as the narrator recites the poem. The ellipses indicate that the poem does not start or finish (neither begins nor ends).


Page One Opens

…we are standing alone
in the wet warm rain,
an unashamed adam and eve;
my bare feet floating in sultry green grass
feels the soft spongy muggy earth;
your small, young hearts hear; your body
without clothing is not naked;
i am shielded by water;
they are you,
i am they without knowing or caring
for anything but the feel, sound, and
taste of innocent rain; i am new taste;
comforting sounds; our blind eyes closed;
neither night nor day; just warm
moist comfort and muffled senses
in neutral emotionless rain…


Look both ways and mind the gaps later. For now, just be.

NaPoWriMo April 2022 (Day 7)

Click the graphic to go to the NaPo page and read all about it.

To complete the first full week of NaPoWriMo, I was to write a poem that argues against, or somehow questions, a proverb or saying.

I selected a Chinese proverb which is also a quotation attributed to Grantland Rice (which is the more likely).

“A wise man makes his own decisions. An ignorant man follows public opinion.”

Indeed, following public opinion is called argumentum ad populum (Latin for “appeal to the people”) and is a logical fallacy based on affirming that something is real or better because the majority think so.


Skeptical Wisdom

The killer of dreams may be worries about
what other people think and indeed,
it matters but shouldn’t.

People have died from their own ignorance
or by ignoring the fleeing crowd. Ask why
everyone is running away, discover reasons.

Learn. Make decisions based on valid,
repeatable, tested evidence. Be skeptical,
but listen and learn, or you may fail.

Opinion polls are often wrong. Opinions change.
Neither follow the blind nor be deceived by prophets,
think and consider and ask, then ask some more.

Public opinion is not always wrong, not always invalid,
it is not always all the public. It is not thinking, but evidence
that makes the difference.

And even then, the state of scientific evidence is fluid,
changing, moving. Contrarian thought is fine. It’s fun.
But in the end, truth is an elusive chameleon.


Look both ways to be sure the path is safe.
Carefully consider all options.
Mind the gaps well lest a valid exception be overlooked.

Sammi’s Weekender #253 (catacomb)

Click on the graphic to open Sammi’s blog for more 77-word responses to this prompt.

 


The Instinct of Art

We get no credit for living. No prestige for breathing in the good air, for eating, consuming; then exhaling poison, crapping disease, passing noxious gases, piling up trash: our environmental sins.

We’ll die. We all do. We know it’s coming. A zero-sum life is waste making waste. But art lives on. Art has soul. Bodies rot in catacombs, but our souls and spirits travel the Earth, through time and space, into the Universe, beholding life through art.


Look both ways daily as you live your story.
Real life falls into the gaps between our living selves and our eternal art.

Sammi’s Weekender #245 (widdershins)

Click to zip on over to Sammi’s blog with more info and other exactly 75-word prose or poems.

Science or The Anemoi

Navigators knew this before Magellan,
south of Polaris’ north star,
only north of Neptune’s equator,
sailors, worthy old salts,
aviators not spiraling
down, widdershins,

meteorologically,
that wind at my back,
meant low pressure
to my left.

By gods of cyclogenesis,
dancing to Coriolis,
or Thor’s twisted moods
of stormy anger and foul weather.

Counterclockwise wind
blows and grows around lows.

While tailwinds are fine for
cruising and sailings, they’re unwanted
blasts for takeoffs and landings.


Look both ways before you turn, either way. Mind the gaps for anyway the wind blows.

Gloss:

  • Widdershins means in a left-handed, wrong, contrary, or counterclockwise direction.
  • Cyclogenesis is the development or intensification of a cyclone or storm system.
  • Coriolis is the force caused by earth’s rotation that deflects moving objects to the right in the northern hemisphere and to the left in the southern hemisphere.
  • The Anemoi are the wind gods of Greek mythology: Boreas (North), Zephyrus (West), Notus (South) and Eurus (East).

 

Sammi’s Weekender #244 (cave)

Click on graphic for Sammi’s blog.

Dig It

Destined to climb
cliffs, walls, grottos,
towers, trees, and poles.

Discovering, exploring
hidey hole caves,
abandoned mines; hunters of
excitement and danger.

Excavators, trail blazers;
spelunker boys still alive want
to climb the stairs.


Come closer to me.
Look both ways.
Explore the Universe while you can.
Mind the gaps in the grottos for hidden treasure: the mysteries of the past.