Joe Jiménez

Allegory of the Rattlesnake


Under sun, in debris: a cascabel hums its whole nautilus
of fangdom and scales, a harmony.

But it came for us, we said. We heard, and we’d heard:
ooooooThey can come for you. They will lash out. Anima:
oooooopain. And when it came—

As demon. As menace, as monolith, They as Goliath.

Everything we heard about rattlesnakes: the cascabel
made of God but less godly
oooooothan us—


Understand this: Anyone can suffer.


In my most Mexican self, I understand the sun built a fire, for He once was a God
who said: the body cannot be dispensed
00000with unless I allow it. So I kneel
and show the sun my throat and hope He can fathom me whole.
00000I’d suckle obsidian for a chance at wholeness.
00000But ardor. But fear. Ayotzinapa. But prayer. Ferguson like Juarez.


Until I learn to unlove the systems that make me.
Until I hold a man in my mouth like a mouse or a cricket, a white moth, or a hare.


It is no surprise. We refute the wholeness
of those we believe will do us harm.

He deserved it, we said.
Look at the shit he’d done.

Had it coming, some of us agreed.


Because fear is not an accident.


The ego of hissing. The bravado that is blabbering. The cascabel’s teat-pink suit, its fang wilt
and coil. The fiasco of scales and long rope.

Under debris, in sun: my body and his, yours and hers—
on asphalt, on hillsides, in trash heaps, in rivers, in fires in a great desert
anywhere in the world—


Joe Jiménez