Snake in the Grass

It is a grass snake.
It is curled in autumn leaves.

It is autumn leaves.
In it is a curled grass snake.

A curled autumn snake?
Is it? It is leaves in grass!

It is curled in grass.
It is a snake autumn leaves.

Curled leaves in grass.
It is a snake. It is autumn.

Is it a snake in grass?
Is it curled autumn leaves?

It is curled. It is grass.
Snake leaves in autumn.

Autumn leaves in a grass snake.
Is it curled? It is!

Kim M. Russell, 29th November 2019

Image result for grass snake in autumn leaves
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My poem for Imaginary Garden with Real Toads Weekend Mini Challenge: The Uncertainty of the Poet, also linked to dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night and Poets United Poetry Pantry

This weekend I’m hosting the Weekend Mini Challenge and noodling about with words in an attempt to emulate Wendy Cope’s poem ‘The Uncertainty of the Poet’, which was written in response to a 1913 painting by Giorgio de Chirico. The poem is written in eight couplets of short lines and restricted to a small number of words. You can read it over at the Imaginary Garden.

I got the idea for the poem from an article I was reading about how grass snakes lay their eggs in piles of leaves and compost heaps, where they hibernate between October and April.

58 thoughts on “Snake in the Grass

  1. I, unlike many, loves snakes — having raised 52 in my basement in my childhood (my mother was a saint). I also like the smell of skunk, so no accounting for taste. But I really enjoyed this poem. English word order is drastically important and the play here with the same words over and over kept me standing in the grass looking at the autumn snake. The Japanese languages uses little words to mark the function of words in their sentences, so word order is much more fluid — your poem made my bilingual mind flip carelessly between the two languages.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Sabio. I also like snakes. I had friends in Germany who kept snakes. I like what you say about the way the Japanese mark the functions of words in sentences.


  2. Also, the poem reminded me of a custom I still have with my children (now 18 and 20). Instead of saying “Night, night. Don’t let the bedbugs bite.” I always have done some twisted word order and odd word switch for the saying to make it nonsense — a tease to the mind that nonetheless puts the mind where it wants to be. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This rang a bell with me, Kim.
    Beware, “A snake in the grass.” I would use this to warn of a sneaky, treacherous person. Laying low but one who could strike any moment.
    With this morning in my mind since who knows, I checked with google, “a snake in the grass:”
    “… this metaphor for treachery, alluding to a
    poisonous snake concealed in tall grass, was used in 37 b.c. by the Roman poet Virgil ( latet anguis in herba).
    I liked your work here a lot. Thank you for this nice prompt.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for linking my poem to Gertrude Stein, Marian, and thank you for the good wishes. The antibiotics seem to be working and I can breathe again. After yesterday’s setback, I’m back at the computer and ready to read and comment.


    2. Marian, I can’t find any way of commenting on your stunning poem, so I thought I’d get back to you here. I love the image of the belly-moon, so low and swollen, so pregnant and glorious!


  4. Gorgeously rendered, Kim! ❤️ I love the smooth flow and different perspective which follows in each couplet. 🙂 Thank you for the inspirational prompt! 🌹

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Viv. Lucas is better now. It’s me who is getting over a chest infection and vomiting virus, which I picked up while I was staying with them. The antibiotics seem to be having a positive effect, but I’m still wobbly.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. An interesting introduction to a world you created. I can imagine the smells of fall leaves, of unseen snakes and your surprise “It is!” that could be either from fear or glee. You don’t tell us and you shouldn’t. It is for us to imagine. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I don’t know if that’s a snake or leaves, but I’ll just be leaving it alone, all the same. I like the uncertainty of this poem. made me squirm in my seat a bit. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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