King Cobra

A poem by Tim Tomlinson


The dog’s barking woke them –

a cobra had entered the house


and now, reared up, hood flared,

the snake stared down the barking dog,


who snapped and pawed and feinted. 

Roy, from Chicago, froze.


His machete leaned near the door

the cobra guarded. 


Yu, from Chang Mai,

came from the bedroom yawning. 


With a straw broom,

she swept the snake from the house. 


It dropped between bamboo slats

onto the dark earth beneath the living


room.  Is good luck, Yu told him, and fell

back to sleep within minutes. 


Roy couldn’t sleep. He sat with the dog. 

He watched the day dawn.


He was close to forty. 

In two months he would be a father. 


He had so much to learn.

Tim Tomlinson is a writer based in New York, where he is a co-founder of New York Writers Workshop. His poems, stories and essays have been published widely in Asia and the US, including the chapbook Yolanda: An Oral History in Verse (Finishing Line Press) and the collection Requiem for the Tree Fort I Set on Fire (Winter Goose)

This poem first appeared in the United Verses anthology, edited by Tom Mangione