from Lamentation with June Bug

Published December 2013


Snake Charmer


But I can see you’re not stunned

enough, and it’s the devil’s work I see

you’re accusing me.  You’re seeing

my arms and legs branch off

me like I was crisp as my snakes

and muscular as rage.  You’re dying

to inquire why a lady wants to risk

her limbs if it’s got nothing

to do with divinity like I should be that

tree down in Eden folding its leaves

in prayer to keep from getting its fruits

swiped.  Now when I was a copper-headed

little girl and always got put

in red to match, I’d swing out

back at the haunch of the old live

oak and press my toes into the fig

vine against Granddaddy’s work

shed who called me the apple

of his eye and laughed about me going

to be the bad one in the bunch.  That made        sense

to me ‘bout as much as snakes being God’s

way of punishing generosity like a birth

-day minus the cake and presents.  Especially

since the first time I handled

one like it was giving itself

wrapped up to me and waiting

to get opened.  Just a tiny garter

snake, but I knew that I was knowing

what to do.  It was like that

for such a long time I was almost sorry

there weren’t going to be any more

secrets.  And then like I’d been struck

by a poison dart, it landed on me

that those others were the gifts

saved for last.  Not that I’d be drawn by                anything

evil, but the way I was seeing

it, what’s got danger lying

inside’s got a subtlety going on.  Maybe

the slip knot of meanness or something

elastic as the heart, something tender

and also tough with being

scared to wobble it out.  But those ones

don’t lie out on your back

lawn and slither across your raised

eyebrows like they were a satin

bow come untied and streaming

like a comet’s tail in a once in your life

-time’s miracle.  A surprise

party is what it was, the first one

that beaded around the big rock

like it was his glassed in front

parlor, a rattler done up

in all his bangles dancing for my warm

blood.  And then it was over

and I could’ve spread a picnic

blanket and invited him for a sandwich

and berries.  Later and fast as dust

devils the hooded cobra

spitting at me like he’d just learned

the alphabet and corals like party

favors, all yellow, black,

and red.  I can see I’m nuts 

in your eyes, but I’d like to set you

at your ease as I’ve got no mind

to belly out of here hanging

my head.  I suppose

you might say I’ve come

to cherish what nobody else allows

and feel right at home with it, unlikely

as it is to you like this snake

you see threaded ‘round my calf

like a sheer stocking slipping into a shoe.

"Nancy Esposito, in these sustained sighing poems, is in it for the long game. Every long line is an event horizon. See the sea writing in long hand! There are endless highways, vectors vectoring from here till kingdom come, a time and a place at odds even with the odds. That endless, infinite line forms smack dab in the middle of nowhere and runs its course, a mobius, in the heart of the heart, warped and wonderful, a parenthetic parenthesis, the periodic morphed to ellipses..."

Michael Martone on Lamentation with June Bug

Author of Four for a Quarter and Michael Martone

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"This is not a book of extras, but of essences."
Susan Schultz 
"These poems sweep across years and regions of life with sharp, passionate, and precipitous turns, all the while testing the strength of our capacity to hold on to one another."
Fred Marchant
Esposito’s craft is exquisite, but she's not afraid to show her vulnerability.
This is a marvelous collection. There isn't a weak poem in this book, and the best poems in it will remain etched in my memory. Nancy Esposito deserves a wide reading public: there's a timelessness to her poems that tells me this work will survive. A beautiful book.
Jaime Manrique, Amazon Review, 26th Jan 2014