Poetry: “Night Snake” by Jennifer Martelli

I try to bend my back
to the sadness. The moon

grows back
fat, a yellow scythe. Perseus

the head of the Gorgon, snakes

litter the cold sky, just as
dangerous dead. My friend

found one black
snake head, one rat’s

tail, juniper buds
waxy & strewn in her yard

after a quiet night.
Anything I’ve ever feared

regenerated, came
around on the wheel St. Catherine—

like, moon—
sure, rose

from the wet
humus in my heart.

Tonight another old white man
told me bend

your back back like
a bow to the sadness.

The moon waxed
fat again, a mezzaluna dull

metal all
ready for my weight

to cut off
clean the night snake’s head.


Jennifer Martelli’s debut poetry collection, The Uncanny Valley, was published in 2016 by Big Table Publishing Company. She is also the author of the chapbook, Apostrophe. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Thrush, PANK, The Baltimore Review, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and The Pittsburgh Poetry Review. She has been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net Prizes, and is the recipient of the Massachusetts Cultural Council Grant in Poetry. She is a book reviewer for Up the Staircase Quarterly, as well as a co-curator for The Mom Egg VOX Blog Folio.

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