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Kurt Newton

kiss the sky


what the fuck 

I always get this Hendrix thing happening

whenever I've had a few too many

guitar notes by the fistful

filling my drive home

transporting me to some

mindbent dimension

timewarp sixties


fly on my sweet angel drive

no cares no worries

just me and the road and the night

and the crown prince electric telling me

"there must be some kinda way outta here..."


and for a moment I wish there was

and for a moment

the street lights grow purple halos

and the white lines

lift up off the pavement

and scatter like startled doves

and I feel if I could just take my hands

release them from the steering wheel

everything would take care of itself

I would rise up into the night

to kiss the sky


but the song ends

landing me hard like an albatross

the purple halos lift

as the radio jock eases me back

and I take my exit home

to the world I've grown accustom

and I tell myself next time

I'll call the radio station

a half hour before I leave

request a double shot

"Castles Made of Sand"

"The Wind Cries Mary"

see how far I get





my brother was seven

when he picked up a large garter snake

down by the lake.

he only wanted to be its friend

in fact he loved snakes so much

he wanted to kiss it

feel the flick of its tongue against his lips


but another seven year old

fascinated by the glistening toy-like thing

pulled on its tail and it reacted

bit into my brother's lip

blood spurting like a ruptured

catsup packet


when the snake dropped onto the sand

sunbathing mothers screamed

corralled their infant children

my brother shouting

"It's okay...he didn't mean it..."

his blood-smeared mouth

stating otherwise


meanwhile the snake slithered across the road

toward the bushes where it belonged

a Good Samaritan in a pickup truck

did his best to kill the monster

"Leave him alone!  He didn't mean it!"

my brother screamed

but the rev of the pickup truck

rolling back and forth

drowned him out


forty years later

in the year before my brother died

he would lie on the basement floor of his home in Idaho

and let a dozen rattlesnakes he kept

slither out of their cages and find him

they would coil between his legs

settle on the rise and fall of his chest

nuzzle against his head and neck



he had names for each one

the way people name cats





each one a story

each one a gift

a way of making up for that summer day

when curiosity turned to screams

and a sense of wonder ended with death


a year later

when his wife found him

he was in the basement

the paramedics were warned

the snake cages had been left open

but the snakes were away in dark corners

my brother no longer able to offer

his warmth



Kurt's poetry has appeared in The Dream People, 1/25, Paper Crow, A Sea of Alone: Poems for Alfred Hitchcock, and Death in Common. He has written several novels and a multitude of short stories, but poetry is his first love.