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Killing a Backyard Snake


I troughed the small snake

with murderous intent

through compost heaps, struck

again and again with a shovel

until the body severed:

the upper half lizard brown,

the under, pale as baby’s breath.

Even in death the mouth sawed

open and closed.  I told

myself I had biblical

sanction, yet calling a priest

did not quickly free me.

Weeks I dreamed of innocents,

of snakes sliced by spades

centuries since Adam,

spilling sins of killers

who sought their own dark wills.

Now I pray forgiveness

and swear by the grave

of this fellow I stabbed

never again to splinter

or stomp with such haste.



 This poem appeared originally in The MacGuffin