Short Hills, New Jersey, USA
Millburn High School
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.
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