Venom

CAS for Database

Daniel Boyko

Short Hills, New Jersey, USA

Millburn High School

Poetry

An aged dandelion, its wispy pappi float

               away. My lidless eyes follow their drifting paths, scattering

                              like newborn spiders. The pavement blisters. One day, I hope


                              I’ll float away too. A few specks dart

             to the mid-afternoon sky, but soon my mind slips,

like shedding skin.


It curls into focus. I absorb a glimpse

              of feathers, its dark silhouette hovers

                              overhead. It stretches, extends


                              its limbs, brushing against the cool air, gentle

              to my scales. As if sighing, it rises higher

and higher, growing closer,


closer to the bright light. I feel

               a pang, a tingling, fuzzy

                               burn like slithering over


                               burned coals. The wings brush

                 the wind with patience. With every whoosh,

something throbs inside me.


The feathers fade like remaining spring

               snow. I wish I could close my eyes,

                             maybe the pain might go away. I should leave


                             the pavement, huddle against weeds, clover,

               crinkly petals. Once, I might have. Twenty, thirty

minutes pass by, I realize I never moved.


Three oak-trunks’ length away, I hear a snarl.

               My hollow body claws at the ground beneath me,

                             but I can only lunge:


                             strike, not flee. I hiss, praying that my shaking tail,

             glistening scales scare it off. It grows so close I can smell

its insides, dripping oil. My hiss turns whisper.


Maybe we’ll float away.

EDITORIAL PRAISE

In “Venom,” a predator-prey relationship serves as the setting for a sort of metamorphosis, a restless desire to slough off one reality for another. The piece oscillates between quietly stirring ruminations and visceral imagery — wind against wings, dripping oil, blistering pavement. The serpentine movement and hauntingly surreal visions of floating continue to thread through the reader’s mind long after the piece’s conclusion.

Daniel Boyko is a writer from New Jersey. His work appears or is forthcoming in SOFTBLOW, Nanoism, Eunoia Review, and The Aurora Journal, among others. He serves as Editor-in-Chief of Polyphony Lit. Wherever his dog is, he can’t be far behind.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR