2 poems by Stephen Nelson


    Baby Snakes


    A

    grass

    snake

    slid across

    the path

    in our back

    garden

    one summer

    when I

    was a kid.

    My cousin

    was with me

    and saw it too

    but none

    of the adults

    believed us.

    My cousin was

    older than me

    and used to

    sun bathe

    on the step

    in a blue

    bikini.

    Years later

    she married

    her Romany cousin.

    I had a kundalini

    awakening

    when I was 25

    which I suppose

    is the

    esoteric

    equivalent

    of a grass

    snake

    winding across

    your path.

    Sometimes

    I lie on

    the grass

    in the sun

    to soothe

    my spine

    when

    it's sore.

    Coffee also

    soothes me.

    I drank

    milky coffee

    as kid

    and my cousin

    made fun

    of me

    cos milk

    was for babies.

    That's ok

    I liked her

    anyway.

    She had

    dark

    hair and

    thick lips.

    Maybe it's the

    memory of

    milky coffee

    that soothes me

    because

    let's face it

    coffee gets

    you wired af

    and batshit

    crazy.

    Today I'm

    going to shop

    for a new

    jacket

    and notebooks

    to write in

    then go to

    Starbucks

    although

    it's raining

    heavily

    and the rain

    is falling

    like baby snakes

    which is

    a song

    by Frank Zappa.

    Kundalini

    makes you

    crazy too -

    either that or

    enlightened

    or something.

    Some days

    I can't

    tell which.


    Jokes


    My friend

    and I

    hitched

    up north

    and climbed

    Ben Nevis

    and sailed

    to Skye

    where we

    met a beautiful

    Spanish girl

    in a youth

    hostel

    on a rainy

    island night.

    I was

    too shy

    to talk

    to her

    but I listened

    to her

    crack jokes

    in Spanish

    about

    William Wordsworth

    and the

    Lake District

    that made

    her mum and sisters

    laugh.

    How cool

    is that,

    I thought,

    to be so

    funny and

    good looking!

    When I

    got

    home I

    listened to

    Bob Dylan

    sing about

    Italian girls

    and lounged

    about dreaming

    about the

    beautiful girl

    I'd met

    on the

    Isle of Skye,

    imagining

    I was a singer

    and a solitary

    island traveller.

    My sister

    heard the song

    and developed

    a crush

    on Bob Dylan.

    Romance

    is contagious

    but generally

    impractical

    at that age.

    A few years

    later I was

    in a gallery

    in Jerusalem

    looking at ceramics

    and the girl

    serving was Armenian

    and quite possibly

    the most beautiful

    woman I'd ever seen.

    She was olive skinned

    and the ceramics

    were pink and grey

    and there were

    Israeli soldiers

    outside

    with guns loaded

    pointed at

    the Arab Quarter.

    I was still too shy

    to talk to foreign girls

    or perhaps

    I didn't

    feel worthy

    of such

    overwhelming

    beauty.

    At any rate

    I didn't have

    the words

    back then

    and was

    quite incapable

    of cracking

    jokes about

    Israeli poets

    or wandering

    Jewish

    holy men.

    I went back

    to the

    youth hostel

    next to

    the King David

    hotel

    and read

    the Bible

    after failing

    to procure

    some Lebanese

    hashish

    from a quick talking

    Palestinian

    market stall owner

    whose jokes

    about my height

    made me

    feel like shit.

    No wonder

    Armenian girls

    are so fucking

    beautiful

    in the olive groves

    beneath the

    hot Israeli sun.


    _________


    Stephen Nelson is the author of several books of poetry, including Arcturian Punctuation (Xexoxial Editions) and Lunar Poems for New Religions (KFS Press). He has exhibited vispo and asemic writing internationally, and published in numerous journals, including 3am, Posit, Big Bridge, BlazeVox Journal and The Adirondack Review. He is currently working on a YA sci-fi/fantasy novel. Find him online at www.afterlights-vispo.tumblr.com and www.afterlights.blogspot.com