Monday, July 27, 2015

Joseph D'Agnese


Boosted the crimson Mont Blanc from my boss's desk.
She was in with a client. Too busy to notice or care.
I'd taken little things for as long as I could remember,
so small I'd never felt guilt or been caught.

But that day, I stopped by the zoo on my lunch break.
The snakes were being fed, too.
Terrible, I tell you,
watching a green sinuous thing
crush a trembling wretch in its grip,
its snout blood-red from that first snap of the serpent's jaws
The mouse kicked. Its tail twitched.
But the killer took his time.
Four fangs, moving independently,
gripped that tender furry flesh and coaxed it in
the way a sock slides up around a plump ankle
one side, then the next

Until at last there was nothing to do but slurp up
the rodent's tail
with a satisfied smile.
In three minutes' time
the shape of the meal
—the sharp bits of its bones—
was hardly visible against
muscle and scales.
Somehow it seemed less like nature
and more like fate.
Like Hell come to swallow
a pathetic wrongdoer,
sinner and fool.

I ran for a restroom.
The beast got its lunch but I lost mine.
That afternoon:
"Is this your pen?” I asked. “Found it under the desk where it rolled."

Joe Paretta reads "Predator and Prey":

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D'Agnese confesses: "A recent visit to a zoo in a small city inspired most of this poem's drama. The rest came as I thought about shiny things I’d love to swipe. The truth is, I have a larcenous heart, and a weakness for beautiful pens."

JOSEPH D'AGNESE's nonfiction appeared in Best American Science Writing (HarperCollins) two years in a row. His crime fiction has appeared in Shotgun Honey, Plots with Guns, BEAT to a PULP, and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. His short story "How Lil' Jimmie Beat the Big C" won the the Short Mystery Fiction Society's 2015 Best Flash Story Derringer. Another of his short stories was chosen by author James Patterson for inclusion in Best American Mystery Stories 2015 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). D’Agnese is the author of three popular history titles, a children’s picture book on the Fibonacci Sequence, and some novels. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina.

1 comment:

Nancy Brewka Clark said...

Perfect description of a perfectly natural but horrifying act.