a black mamba is not black for its scales but black for its mouth By alyssa hanna

a black mamba is not black for its scales but black for its mouth

i talk about you
sparingly            but when i do
it is with venom
neurotoxic and shocking
eating away at spinal columns
and childhood dreams

this is a chain stitch      a blood tie
binding us despite the fact we share
no blood you told me in every cell
we have our own unique DNA
and mine does not match but still you
bought me a microscope for christmas
never lip gloss or nail polish and
i thank you for that

the time passed absent is not what cures this venom
but the time that hung in the air
like a body on a rope
you cried when i tried but when he
succeeded you said you felt nothing i will not say
poison because poison kills you
when you ingest it and venom kills you
when you inject it and i will not
feed you anything                                you taught me the difference
but i keep this venom
just for you

this is a foundation          a pattern
cut two pieces along the lines and sew them together
your foot reached the pedal when mine did not
the fallback against pine paneled walls the egyptian gods you bought
when you saw the pyramids           mounted firm and watching
you told me that your mother never bought you nice things
so you learned to make them yourself i wonder if
you were angry that my mom                             was kinder to me
but when you went to africa you did not take me with you
i asked about snakes and you said you saw
one but it hung as a prize in the hotel stuffed mouth open
the black mamba is actually gray you said
it’s called black for the endless abyss you are sucked into when its mouth
opens                                     you showed me how to shoot venom
in the same way you have to make sure that you never stop
the chase           be sure that your prey             has expired their brains a white noise static

your dry tears at a funeral
on the edge of the nile
the base of giza
alligator pizza what more
can i list how far
can i go how far can you

and however far you can go can you stay there
the sewing machine creaks without its master
and the yarn sits scratchy and dull
i never used the microscope but i cultivated a petri dish
it is a family of bacteria
searching for nerves to sever

By alyssa hanna


alyssa hanna graduated from Purchase College in May 2016 with a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in History. Her poems have appeared or are upcoming in Reed Magazine, The Naugatuck River Review, Barren Magazine, Rust + Moth, BARNHOUSE, Pidgeonholes, and others. She was also nominated for a 2017 Pushcart Prize and was a finalist in the 2017 James Wright Poetry Competition. alyssa is an aquarium technician in Westchester and lives with her fish and special needs lizards. follow her @alyssawaking on twitter, instagram, ko-fi, and patreon.

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