Venom

Robert Walton is a retired middle school teacher and a lifelong rock climber with many ascents in the Sierras and Pinnacles National Park. His publishing credits include works of science fiction, fantasy and poetry. Walton’s historical novel Dawn Drums won the 2014 New Mexico Book Awards Tony Hillerman Prize for best fiction and first place in the 2014 Arizona Authors competition. He co-authored “The Man Who Murdered Mozart” with Barry Malzberg, which was subsequently published in F & SF in 2011. Most recently, his “Do you feel lucky, Punk?” received a prize in the 2018 Bartleby Snopes dialog only contest.


Venom

The rattlesnake’s severed head rested
Like a spent bullet
Against
My grandfather’s boot.

Desert dust
Coated that boot
With years of layers,
None from a trail.

He nudged the head,
Tipped it with his toe
Until the fangs pointed up.
I shivered,

But I liked those fangs.
Children respect
Clear intentions
And nothing’s purer than

Venom.

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