“Snakes in the ‘Hood”

The Tanka class tonight at The Met Library here in Atlanta was great.  I didn’t expect to have so much fun.  The class wants to meet again, and they are working on their own tankas. I am so glad we did this, though I was sure that no one would come. LOL!

Lady Nyo



My beautiful picture

Second half of vandalized mural. Vandalized by religious ignorance.  Pierre Roti, a world famous muralist, did this mural on a blank wall.  Douglas Dean and other political ‘leaders’ led the charge to destroy this mural.


This poem is dedicated to  my cousin, Jan Eppinette, in Colorado.  Jan has challenged me to post a nature photo for seven days, but I am no photographer.  Jan is.  So, I will post within this week, nature poems.  Thanks, Jan.  Appreciate what you are doing.

Love, Jane




“When people see a snake, they think a serpent. 

When they think serpent, they see Satan”

….former State Rep. Douglas Dean, who was caught  carrying a packet of cocaine in his wallet.



Oh, my dear garden snakes,

Run and hide in the leaf litter!

You appear each spring as if birthed from that old stump,

Your beautiful duns and browns and moss greens

Intermingling with last year’s fallen leaves.


I remember wearing you as divine jewelry

Around my slender wrists as a child.

You terrified the adults

but transformed me into Cleopatra.


I remember a box under my bed

Disturbed by a dust mop,

And a dozen of you slithered out

Felt the 200 year old wooden floors,

Cold on your bellies.

The handler of the dust mop screamed

And I never could find you all.

Did you disappear out that window

Where you would have dropped 30 feet to the ground?


I mourned for those missing

And learned adults didn’t have the tolerance

Of children for the miracles of nature.


Later I remember eating blackberries from

A stand of rambling bushes,

Warmed by the July sun

Of the North Carolina mountains

And below me a cotton mouth doing the same.


I backed up out of fear and respect,

But the blackberries were good

A truce was called,

Enough for both to share.


I remember the black racers

That hung in the pine trees

And we, daring each other

To run under them,

Hoping one of us would get squeezed

In your embracing coils

But it never happened-

You knew our game.


In other cultures you snakes

Symbolized the umbilical cord

Joining all humans to Mother Earth.


In ancient Crete

You were the guardians

Of the Goddess’ great mysteries

Of birth and regeneration.


The Hopi Indians

Joined the snake of the Sky Spirit

With the snake of the Earth

And dancing with them in great reverence,

Loosened them into the fields

Where the golden corn was growing

To bless and secure their fertility.



No garden hoe will touch you,

My dear little garden snakes,

No stoning of your innocence,

I will gather your twine-ing bodies

And lift you above the ignorance of bigotry.


They violate their God’s dictates

“Even to the lesser of you amongst us”

And you, without limbs or voice are surely that.


If not beloved by God, surely you will be beloved by me.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2013

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