Snakes on a Poet

by Matt Galletta

THEY drop onto him
from the ceiling,
from a hole
drilled into the ceiling
directly above
the open mic.

The Poet is in the middle
of reading a sonnet
dedicated to
his landlady
when the first one,
a cobra,
tumbles from the ceiling
and onto his shoulders.

The cobra hisses
and strikes his hand,
knocking the glossy-covered chapbook
to the ground.

A diamondback
is the second to fall,
followed by a copperhead,
and then a black mamba,
native only to Africa.

The poisonous snakes begin
to wind around the Poet's feet
and lash out at his ankles.

He attempts to escape,
but the snakes have
coiled tightly around him
and he falls to the ground,
bringing the mic stand
down with him.

The snakes writhe around
his thrashing body,
striking him on the
arms,
torso,
face.

The combined venom
rushes through his bloodstream,
and as paralysis
takes effect,
the Poet gurgles out
his last couplet.

The people in the audience
wait
until it is clear
he is finished,

then politely applaud.

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