The Snake and the Breath

Read my poem published by River Heron Review in a September 2020 special edition, “Poems for Now.”

The Snake and the Breath
after an art piece by Johnalynn Holland, Washington Post, July 3, 2020

Pale blue, it circles a dark neck,
ignores cries heard above,
heard below –
pull the blue, push the breath
a hawk circles
vultures ready
black eyes, red face
a hard kneel.

The skull, the red light skull,
skin over skin
over bone
washed and masked,
blue shirt starched,
black gun pointed
to co-opted breath, lungs
white patched, oxygen
pressured to respire.

Then march snake to snake,
body with body,
air to air,
feet wide, mouths, fangs,
words in hands,
masked black to white,
white to black
and blue.

Then quick drive
hanging cuffs
the snake red and blue
flashing matters,
black matters,
I see you,
they say,
ICU
iphone in hand
lives matter.