Ringneck Snake 

There was this black snake with

a yellow ribbon around its neck.

Just under a foot, the little fellow was

      dead and gone in the woods.

I believe ants were traversing

       its mortal remains,

though I can’t be sure.

 

Suppose I was in a hurry

       on my walk through the woods.

I almost passed him by

       contorted as he was, grey belly up.

I hoped he was alive

       as I twisted and turned his

       writhing body, static.

 

No, he was through

       with all this short life

had to offer.

I flicked him off the path,

a small consideration

       to keep others

       from squishing his coil.

 

But his passing bothered me

        all along the way of my woodsy walk

a couple of miles, I think,

        an hour and a half, anyway.

Because of him, his red tongue stilled,

        the walk was ruined, a failure

        until I saw a little toad set on the bridge.

 

Delighted, I shooed him gently

      out of harm’s way,

dogs and other lopers loping

      who might take him up.

Feeling good, saving that toad,

      saved my day, too,

in this world not lousy

with a surfeit of snakes.

 Slip into Sleep 

Do little things die little deaths

or are they just little things?

Do their families suffer loss?

Does a worm drowned in the rain

call forth the angels’ clarions

      or is it beyond noting?

 

When I die, make it a little thing.

Pull folds of earth around me

as I steal beneath the soil.

Cheer the flowers on above me

while I slip into sleep.

Make death a little thing.