“Snakes in the ‘Hood.”




My beautiful picture

Second half of vandalized mural

About three years ago, a muralist came into our community, and on a bare wall, painted the most difficult and original, high artistic endeavor I have ever seen.  He ws French, and his “Artist’s statement” was painted in French, and few could read it.  So they painted over the mural.   I would agree that this mural called for discussion as to what it ‘meant’.   It was beautiful, inspiring, confusing.  But the ‘leadership’ of this particular community decided to vote their own ignorance.   Tant pis.


“Snakes in the ‘Hood”

“When people see a snake, they think serpent.

When they think serpent, they see Satan”

 ….former State Rep. Douglas Dean, who was  arrested for cocaine.



Oh, my dear garden snakes,

Run and hide in the leaf litter!

You appear each spring

Birthed from that old stump,

Your beautiful duns, browns, moss greens

Intermingling with last year’s fallen leaves.


I remember you as divine jewelry

Around  slender wrists as a child.

You terrified the adults

And transformed me into Cleopatra.


A box under my bed

Disturbed by a dust mop,

A dozen of you slithered out

The 200 year old wood floors,

Cold on your bellies.


The head of the  mop screamed–

I never could find you all.

Did you disappear out that window

Where you dropped to the ground?


I mourned for those missing,

Learned adults didn’t care

For the miracles of nature.


Eating blackberries from

A stretch of rambling bushes,

A July North Carolina sun

Warm for the mountains

And below me,

A cottonmouth doing the same.



Backing out of fear and respect,

But the blackberries were good

And enough for both to share.


I remember the black racers

Hanging  in the pine trees

And kids daring

To run under them,

Hoping one of us get squeezed

In  embracing coils

But it never happened.

You knew our game.


In cultures you snakes

Were 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  in reverence,

Loosened them into the fields

Where  golden corn was growing

To  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,


You will be beloved by me.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2017, (“Snakes in the Hood” is published in “Pitcher of Moon”, 2015, Amazon.com)

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28 Responses to ““Snakes in the ‘Hood.””

  1. kanzensakura Says:

    I have the same feelings about snakes. We had a baby black racer in the laundry room for a couple of weeks – it crawled in through the vent space. I left it alone. It is gone now and I kind of miss it.


  2. kanzensakura Says:

    Please post this on Poets United Poetry Pantry today. I like it! It’s different.


  3. ladynyo Says:

    Ok, and thank you!


  4. ladynyo Says:

    Yeah. I like raccoons too, and we have opossums every year. Most times tragic times because of the damn dogs. The neighborhood had a wild turkey (one), a raccoon that raided all the gardens but we tolerated it because he was so huge and beautiful…..a coyote and a couple of foxes. And snakes, sometimes copperheads.

    Thanks, Toni.


  5. gillena Says:

    I admire your compassion, but I must say I prefer to read about most animals than to have person encounters

    Have a blessed Sunday

    Much love…


  6. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) Says:

    We do have all these animals we dislike… but snakes are not among them… beautiful creatures (but you should be careful with them…) If it had been ticks I might have reacted differently.


  7. ladynyo Says:

    Ticks. LOL! And you would be right to do so.


  8. Donna@LivingFromHappiness Says:

    Snakes should be revered….they are mistrusted and maligned, but oh so important to the balance of life in nature and my garden….we love them, but my neighbors scream in terror. Love your homage to these mighty creatures!


  9. ZQ Says:

    Well done! That was very thoughtful in the harmony.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, ZQ. Poetry is never that far from music.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Donna. I find baby snakes in the mouths of my cats….and we attempt to liberate them.


  12. Sherry Blue Sky Says:

    This is very lovely. Kudos for being a voice for snakes – and a protector of them. The lines about learning as a child that adults didnt care for the natural world hit home…..we are experiencing the results of that now. As is Mother Earth. Lovely to see you in the Pantry, kiddo.Have been very busy, we must catch up.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Mary Says:

    Not many snakes near me. Haven’t seen one in years…but if it would be one it would be a garden snake, nothing to fear. I greatly enjoyed your reflection.


  14. kanzensakura Says:


    Liked by 1 person

  15. kanzensakura Says:

    Yeppers. Loved this even more on the second reading. Snakes and frogs and turtles are so important to our ecology. I encourage them. Now raccoons…….


  16. ladynyo Says:

    Yeah, racoons, but they are so pretty….and look intelligent.


  17. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Mary. Here in the South, we have copperheads, racers, cotton mouths and rattler. I’ve only seen these varmints up north, where I come from…rural NJ.


  18. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Sherry! So good to ‘talk’ with you. the summer here has been hot. 94 today, but Sept. is looming and that brings hope. The garden I left to fate: the mosquitoes are heavy this season. I have gone through so many bottles of spray stuff. I am a walking DEET factory. Although many times painful, it’s a fertile field to reach back into memories of childhood and write from there. Thank you , kSherry….this is my first time in years at PU. Nice site.


  19. kanzensakura Says:

    they are nasty mean citified baby bears. I throw rocks at the one that comes and tips over our garbage can every night

    Liked by 1 person

  20. ladynyo Says:

    Well, if it wasn’t for the possible rabies, I wouldhave a few around as pets. There were a few that would get into our boot closet back in NJ. How I never knew as the walls in this cooling room were 2 feet thick of stone. the house next door until last week had a mother and two kits at an attic window. They were lovely. Don’t throw stones at them, Kanzen. You know….karma.


  21. kanzensakura Says:

    LOL…I don’t believe in karma. I truly don’t. And it is only one. every once in awhile it snarls at me. we have a mutual dislike society. Yes, they are like a lot of men – they are pretty and they look intelligent…LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  22. ladynyo Says:

    I’m not going to argue with you there. LOL!


  23. Sumana Roy Says:

    We were taught to be scared of snakes in our childhood as snakes abounded where I lived. My viewpoint changed a 360 degree after watching Steve Irwin (The Crocodile Hunter) in Nat Geo, when I was already an adult. And now this poem! I can feel the heartbeat of this beautiful poem. Thanks for the post.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. ladynyo Says:

    And thank YOU for reading this poem. I am delighted you have. I remember watching him on tv…and how it opened our lives to so many animals we would never face. I am afraid of snakes as an adult, have lost so much innocence from childhood, and other things, so being able to write our memories and our ‘better selves’ in poetry is a boon.


  25. Rosemary Nissen-Wade Says:

    A very touching poem. Thank you for defending the snakes!


  26. ladynyo Says:

    You are very welcome, Rosemary.


  27. Susan Chast Says:

    I adore the jewelry of garden snakes!
    “I remember you as divine jewelry
    Around slender wrists as a child.”

    Just when the ode gathered all that I love and gave it back to the snake, you brought in history too. I am certain the snakes are grateful.


  28. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you. I am hoping the readers of this poem are grateful too for the history lesson.

    Thank you for reading and your comment.


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