Tribes of the Serpent

In this land the water
was once dark as black
plums and the hail fell in triangles
of ice grey until the morning
the scarlet seas whelped
ancient craggy serpents
spilling into the forests
like a carpet rolled
out for royalty. The serpents
skimmed the jungle floors
with agile pink tentacles,
telling tales to the old tribes
of undersea blue caves
glowing with yellow
coral and teeming
with the lithe bodies
of chaste mermaids
wrapped in the silky torrents
of their own hair.
And the old tribes laughed
heartily, gold particles
frail as ashes blowing
from their mouths
into the frigid air.
And the lead serpent
said: if we turn your land
green and warm with bulbs
of fruit dripping from hairy
trees, would the bravest
of your chieftains return
to the sea with us?
laughing again, the tribes
agreed and it was here the serpents
flew into the bleak sky
made the formation
of a great clawed hand
which spiraled down
and drove its claws
under the icy earth,
cupping it like a celestial
ball, then gently rolling
it back into place
as hot tropical air
blasted from the sea,
the ice melted
the hail storms
ceased, and ample
fruit ripened to red,
yellow and gold.
And all the chiefs cried:
"I will go. No, please let me go."
And the serpents laughed
and chose the youngest
of the chiefs, Tealchut.
Wrapping him in the tentacles
of the eldest serpent
like a snakeskin cocoon,
they faded into the horizon
then dove splashless
into the newly green sea.
Years later, during
the great papaya harvest,
a young small dragon
in a blue leather harness
washed to the pink sandy
shore. The tribe woman
fed him honey and nut milk
and cleaned his coral inflicted
wounds. Still weak with fever,
he called for his master
and best friend, Tealchut
who had left him to return
to his family, promising
to meet him on the shores
of his old homeland
where the ice was
once so bitter and cold.
And the women nursed
the young dragon as though
he were one of their own
whilst the men and children
stood day and night on the shoreline
eaglery awaiting the return
of one of their own and much more.

© 2009 Janie Hofmann. All rights reserved.

The Sparrow Goddesses

From many a darkness too near
sad waifs bearing triangles
of gold, sordid with facts and fear

now they no more dream of a sleep
with blue myraids and praying
manti, from tar stained walls that creep

with the purple ivy outgrown
by red thorned fingers, reckless
sparrows atop the cask unknown.

And once they begged: do teach
us to fly. Minds guilt ridden
languid with lust, the truth a breach,

pallid soldiers watching daybreak,
entrusted with scope so rare
they raise slumbered voices to slake

the silence of languages lost
to empires withered and torn
triumphs vacant save for the frost.

© 2009 Janie Hofmann. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Janie is a Canadian writer who loves to explore the desert and read gothic fiction. Many of her poems are inspired by old fairy tales. Her work has appeared in over forty speculative fiction journals including journals for young readers such as Beyond Centauri, Illumen, Aoife's Kiss and Twisted Tongues. She has a chapbook coming out next year.