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May 13, 2019 Poetry

Three poems

Benjamin Niespodziany

Three poems photo

Neck Tattoo

Your neck tattoo spoke to me but I needed a
translator. Needed a nail gun, a barn wall to
respond to  your forward  advances.  After a
night together,  I woke to find  that your neck
tattoo had  passed on to my lower back. You
said,  Thank  god  for  that.   I said nonsense
only I could understand.


Empty Your Pockets

I keep dead snakes in my pockets in case anyone bothers me on my way to work. Chicago's buses grunt like goblins asking for a light, for change, for a knife in the face. There's a saying:

"Hand it over, asshole, everything in your pockets."

I smile each time, welcome the way to where we both are going. I reach into my pockets and remove not one or two but all four of my dead snakes. I throw them onto the man that holds the knife to my face.

It takes the average person 19 seconds after having a dead snake thrown on them before they realize that the snake is, in fact, dead.

19 seconds on a public bus is an eternity. I'm holding the knife by the time the thief understands I'm the kind of guy who keeps dead snakes in his pockets.
"Pick them up for me," I tell them each time, pointing his knife at his face. "Pick up my snakes. I need them for the next time someone tries to steal from me.”

The few times that this has happened, the men have always paced away, shaken and afraid. Unsure. One apologized. None of the thieves have found out that I don't have a single dime to my name. I'm nothing to steal. It's just me and my four dead snakes. They get me everything I need.



If you sneeze, I won't say bless you. I won't. I'll hand you a tissue and go back to filling in this crossword puzzle with words that don't fit, don't exist.


image: Aaron Burch