This isn’t a romantic relationship. It’s about someone important who recently exited my life. Instead of writing explicitly about them, I wrote about some ominous snake dreams I had when I first met them and others I had before they exited my life. I don’t think this is finished, and I may need to write more specifically about the actual events they parallel. But for now, I tried to bring each sentence to slithering life. We don’t always know who the snakes are. Dreams are great poetic fodder . . . Maybe this is just a dream journal.

Dream One, 2019, We had just met

Torrents. Mudding the hill around your stuccoed home. Rain dream of unknown Alabama. Your suburb. Never entered. No reason to go there. Ever. Gray, swamp green, and water washing and spraying its warnings. No baptism. No redemption. No cleansing. What kind of girl are you if you are, indeed a girl, to live here in this doomed place? Rain. Glooming the swamp with no stops. Doors closing everywhere and biblical rushing rain in eyes, ears, and lungs. Floating muggy and without body in the downpour as clay cascades down your hill. Hovering above the snake, its blacking skin twisting, then slipping invisible into its hole near your window. We had just met.

Dream Two

Hovering weightless above the faceless man’s bald spot in the room’s whiting. Skin like a peach sun poking through thinning pubic hair, his pudgy flesh stretched over a once-muscled frame. Don’t open the door, sir, but of course he does. Or they release themselves like bleached eyes when the night arrives. Yes, the cabinets holy, white, and inviting, open themselves. Inside, a fat black snake, female size, as if roped inside with hands tied behind, a shiny wiggling, a damsel on a railroad track without a railroad track. The snake, for certain, is a she and he is standing in the stillness of my dream in the shock of white. Then I’m gone.

Dream Three, March 2021

I am traveling, in England, perhaps, or India, or both. My luggage is late, just as it was in Manchester, when Max told me they couldn’t have lost it. Waiting as empty conveyers chatter and silver their disappointment, but then the snake arrives, thick and black, and wiggling. The size of a woman, a particular woman I have known but never have met. The snake scaling my dreams. I imagined her laughing as she lay there, bare and wet on the track.

Dream Four
I rush to my luggage which is trapped in a conveyer. Max is nowhere and I’m panicked, I must act fast. My wallet slips from my grip into the conveyer, but when I reach to pick it up, there are bundles of snakes cascading from a log riddled with holes. The conveyer clanks and moves. I plead with a worker to help me get my wallet, which has vanished. He smiles and proceeds down a corridor.

June, 2021

Heat. Inertia. The yard that overcomes. Thigh-high grass. The smell of gasoline. I am mowing, finally, and sadly, killed some things. The whipped weeds and seeds of dandelions. Milkweed stalks who didn’t need me. Then the snake caught in the blade, slung to the gravel bed to the side of the house.

July, 2021

Fumbling with the keys to the shed. I’ll master the grass and keep the snakes away. But they love to sun on the warm wood. And they are patient, can wait all day for their prey as well. As I open the doors, the tiny snake coils near my feet, then races into the shed. Two weeks later, same thing. The snake nestled in the meeting of the two swinging doors, inert in the summer heat, but ready.


  1. Jacqueline Doyle

    So ominous. And the snakes (scary! always there, ready), the sounds, how you bring each “sentence to slithering life”!

  2. Faye Rapoport DesPres

    I really love your writing. The metaphors and descriptions…“A shiny wiggling…” “skin like a peach sun…” “like bleached eyes when night arrives…” Your writing takes me along on a journey of the senses, with meaning showing up through the senses more even than through understanding. And the snake ready at the end! Perfect. (So sad, the snake stuck in the blade…). It was great to be introduced to your work in this workshop!

    • Koss Just Koss

      Thank you, Faye. I’m so glad to discover your writing too. I used to think I was a minimalist, but I just might be an excessive imagist. I don’t know if I always get away with meaning through images, but I’m pushin’ it. Have a great night.

  3. Robert Vaughan

    Hi Koss, love this throughout, those snake images speak to my phobia. And with snakes in mind, you ought to come to Synergia Ranch! Holy cow… vibrant pink snakes (am I right, Meg? Sara?) that are simply gorgeous, and fortunately, not poisonous like some others one can encounter. I digress. I do love this, want it to continue (just as your last piece…) Want to see how snakes manifest so prominently in your piece. My animal cards say SNAKE- 6 (Transmutation). Quote: This medicine teaches you on a personal level that you are a universal being.

    Your writing, dear Koss, is magnificent. All I can say is MORE, MORE, MORE!!! Beyond thrilled to share this BG weekend workshop hosted by our DIVA Meg.

  4. Aimee Parkison

    Koss, “End of a Relationship” is so fascinating in its form. Taking the journey through dreams invites the reader to understand the language in a symbolic way. You’ve captured the surreal logic of dreams so well–the way that dreams hide messages and truths by translating what the mind knows (or needs to know or is attempting to understand) into symbolic language of the unconscious. Just as one might try to dive deep into translating a dream journal, your writing invites the reader to translate the figurative into the literal. Wonderful!!!

    • Koss Just Koss

      Thanks so much for the thoughtful take, Aimee. It was funny what I realized in the dreams once I wrote them down–things I had missed, like the fake helplessness of the large snake.

  5. Todd Clay Stuart

    Koss, I love how each of these sections read like a prose poem. The sectional structure of this affords you the freedom to do so many things with it. Add to it, re-arrange it, scramble it, just like our dreams. Good work!

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