V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics




    —Crotalus adamanteus (Diamondback rattlesnake)

A strip of paper curls in shattered grass,
pebbled skin printed slant.
Why am I so shaken,
imagining a torqued body rearing?
This is only parchment—
a body’s history and testament—
not the raptured strike.

Such death dealing beauty—
Navajo and Hopi knew how to draw
its power, bands of black diamonds
on rug and umber pot.

From creosote brush, tinder-ready
in the canyon below
comes the rattle’s distant warning,
and I am reassured.
We are not at war.

I raise the husk in sharp twilight,
wind it round my arm—
dressing some untreated wound.


© by Lee Rossi


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