Jake the Snake

by Matthew Schmidt

ate a gigantic rat with a tail
long as his body.

belched loud as his rattle.

binge-watched the river
through water-logged boulders.

hissed into the canopy of trees.


Jake felt like ten million
baby snakes in one adult serpent:

eye holes and eyes in every pore
of his reptilian sheath.


Years like a forked-tongue flick.

Asp days. Anaconda nights.


Somewhere in the forest Jake’s parents
weep and slough their skin.

Jake sends them an anniversary card:
“Happy One Hundredth Shedding.”


He isn’t your average snake,
he’s a little above or below.

His tree’s bark smooth as baby.
Stout broom of a branch he sweeps

onto at night. To dream in coils


like he was the seven days left of the world.


Matthew Schmidt is working on a PhD in English at the University of Southern Mississippi. His poems have been published or are forthcoming in 3:AM, Hobart, Poetry South, Territory, and elsewhere. He is an associate poetry editor at Fairy Tale Review.

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