john tiong chunghoo

(Jan 21,1960 / NEW YORK)

snake


snakes, scaly, slippery, a cold lump morbidly crawling
through the dark tunnel of memory
some creatures are born cursed
they are spat, and trumpled on
so that the nerves slithered when i actually
came face to face with one at two or three
the black six inch long they called two headed thing
propped my interest further
you dont get to see one often
i could not remember whether it had ended up
under somebody's stick or a parang
but thanks to the snake it helped me
hold onto a figment otherwise
would have been lost on the tail of time
an inert lump resting on cold yellow soil
guilty heavy of heaven and earth
all ready to take the cold and
inhumane blows of the world

once in while a little one would surface
below the neighbour's house,
a short floral ribbon it looked like jewels
on undeserving hands, bothersome foul mud

the impatient neighbour never let it up
coming running with his parang
crashing or splitting it into two
wonder how such a small creature
can elicit such a anger in a big fat farmer

an eerie feel for them led me to
kill one with a stick and to this
day i am struck with the thought
of what karma i have to face
little wriggly creature that
would have done no harm
but then it is a snake

the road between two padi fields
become a killing field during the harvesting season
a dead chamber as little snakes
make their way to to the other side
for better pasture ending up under wheels
they lie each morning crushed, bruised
they become nothing but a charred
brittle piece of leather a few days later
some snakes are aphrodisiac
and I usually wonder whether these
can be Chinese medicine
to heal whatever ailment you
have such as impotence

one morning a flash flood brought
the fate of a little cobra under brother's bed,
the cat agitated had sounded the alarm
with her irritating meows
the cat we then called brother's saviour

we smelt things foul and like the feline came face to face with it
someone screamed cobra as its head had reared
and its neck spanned
the poor little lifeless rope then flew head and tail
through the air, into the flash flood
after it had gone under the stick

as is always with snake it slithers back
to my memory lane each time
somebody mentions snake
a lane of sweet sour sad feeling
of heaven and earth about snakes
of why God even bothers to create it

Submitted: Friday, August 12, 2011
Edited: Saturday, August 27, 2011

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