survive

Smoke wafts up and fills his trailer
From a cigarette whose ash burns to the thumb,
His hand, pointed, shudders and shakes,
Inked with the fading anchor of a sailor.

Big-block engines outside send a bass
Note rumbling through the home,
Plastic forks and tic tacs chatter
Like frantic mobs eager for chase.

Spent, tarnished tanks of propane,
Strewn, askew, on a floor of magazines
Dated nineteen seventy two or before,
Haphazard calendards of a mind insane.

Outside, a raven perched on a bottle caws,
Something resembling tumbleweed rolls,
Old bones dug up and re-buried piled in heaps,
Like chewing gum wrappers in spring thaws.

Lines cross his face, busy off ramps,
Life’s changing highways and byways,
Eyes set deep wander randomly,
Settle on a long-obsolete book of stamps.

It’s all about survival, he says,
Picks up a snake from near his foot,
Rubs his parched lips against its forked tongue
While the snake writhes in tortured malaise.

He strokes its neck with one scabbed finger,
A gentle smile coaxed onto his face,
Whispers a raspy breath into its scales,
Falls silent, though his whispers linger.

He opens his mouth, bites off the snake’s head,
Its body, held tight, flops limply;
He says, it’s all about survival,
One of us was fated to be dead.

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