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a rattler come sliding through the grass
slow as digestion.

I stamped the dirt—
but you know effort in a dream is

like kicking cotton— it kept coming
then coiled around my feet,

up inside my leg, scales rippled
inside my ribs, its slack spine became mine

and swallowed my heart
in its unlocked jaws,

ran its tongue like a
sickle across my teeth.

Then, in the cool of the eve, 
I felt in my coils the
stamping of feet, heavy in my chest.

At the bootheel, I rattled ancient curses
my tongue had never known.

How will the snake’s head be crushed
which is buried in my skull?

Photo by Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash

Seth Wieck

Seth Wieck's stories, essays, and poetry can be found in Narrative Magazine, Langdon Review of the Arts in Texas, and the Broad River Review where he won the Ron Rash Award for Fiction. His poetry and stories have also been recognized or shortlisted by Texas Review Press, the Everett Southwest Literary Award, and Fare Forward. He lives in Amarillo with his wife and three children and is a candidate for an MFA at the University of St. Thomas in Houston.


  • John Kleinheksel says:

    Wow, Seth!
    Stunning poem. A riff on Genesis 3:15 for one thing.
    (Do you mean to say, “A rattler CAME (instead of “come”)?
    We imagine cursing the snake, but he has taken possession of our feet (actions), our tongue (speech), our heart, (source of will) and our head/mind.
    We curse the Serpent, but he has taken possession of our person.
    Who will crush/destroy the Serpent?
    Thus, to crush the “head” of the serpent means crushing/ destroying evil in my mind, (heart, feet and tongue), renewing it in the likeness of the resurrected Lord, Jesus.
    Such a shocking close to your verse. Provocative. Suggestive.
    Congratulations. Open to many interpretations as good verse is meant to do.

    • Seth Wieck says:

      Thanks for reading, John, and reading so thoroughly. The “come” is meant to be a vernacular usage or an idiosyncrasy of dialect. I read not long ago that there is no sacred language, but that the Gospel is only heard in dialect, and I thought that was a pretty good way of saying it.

  • D.S. Martin says:

    A fascinating mythopoetic dream!