Liana Joy Christensen: three poems

Hey Kekulé

Out walking one day
we came across a snake
belly in the water/head
weaving/spells in the
empty air

Charming snake
draws us in
till, looping
out of the culvert,
it reveals a belly
rent and giving forth …

.                       what?

My companion saw birth;
I saw death:
We were both right.
.           *****

Certain training,
not without its price,
brings the ability
to dance with the snake.

Once you know precisely how
spinal resident rising
holograms the
great world snakes
you may fairly gauge
the risks you take.

Until then,
no matter how you ache,
don’t play with the snake.


Crunching the Numbers

Our tour group was divided 7:2
the majority disgusted
by the idea of eating dog,
the vocal minority
in favour of new flavor
sensations when travelling

Neither vegetarian,
nor starving,
I had the outlier luxury
of drawing my line in the sand
at endangered species
which was easy enough for me
in tourist towns
where menu boards in English
offered dog, tortoise, bamboo rat

But it is not possible
to reliably chart the trend
of all your choices
My travel companion
ordered a Bloody Mary
on the streets of Yangzhou.
I would not advise you
do the same

Unless, of course,
you are the sort of thrill-seeker
who can watch a snake’s throat slit
and bled into your evening drink
and remain sanguine yourself
Our shock must have shown
because the vendor assured us
that the snake would not be wasted
but cooked for dinner
which was a valid point
in a land of 6.3 billion recurring
whose attempts to subtract themselves
have been no less brutal at times

Worldwide humans consume 7000 species
We cultivate 103
Three per cent of all species provide
fifty-six per cent of our protein

Crunch the numbers yourself


Cohabitation 2

A sign at the edge
of my local lake
Snakes known to
exist in this area

What, exactly, am I
to make of this?
Is the very existence
of snakes an affront
to suburban citizenry?
Who perhaps prefer
the artificial lakes
created at the entrance
to discreetly gated communities
with just a duck or two

Nothing untidy or unwholesome
like quicksand
or sulphurous, organic smells
or slithery, cold-blooded creatures

I’d rather behead the sign
than the beast
and reading against the grain
secretly feast on my joy:

Snakes known to exist in this area

-Liana Joy Christensen


‘Hey Kekulé’, ‘Crunching the Numbers’ and ‘Cohabitation 2’ were previously published in Wild Familiars by Liana Joy Christensen and have been republished in Rochford Street Review with permission by the author.

For more snake inspired poems: ‘Making a Meal of it’, ‘Snake Skin, Roe Swamp’ and ‘Locus’ by Amanda Joy

Liana Joy Christesnen photograph

Liana Joy Christensen. photograph by Amber Bateup Photography.

Liana Joy Christensen is an ophidiophile, as well as a writer and poet. She is the author of Deadly Beautiful, and Wild Familiars, prose and poetry, respectively. Her work is widely published and she was shortlisted for the Newcastle Poetry Prize in 2014.

Purchase Deadly Beautiful: vanishing killers from the animal kingdom


Liana Joy Christensen recently launched Amanda Joy’s Snake Like Charms at Voiceworks, Freemantle on 24 April 2017.

This entry was posted in Issue 22, Liana Joy Christensen, snake inspired poems and tagged , , , by Zalehah Turner. Bookmark the permalink.

About Zalehah Turner

Zalehah Turner is a Sydney based poet, photographer, cultural journalist, and Associate Editor of Rochford Street Review (RSR). Zalehah regularly contributes articles and interviews on poetry, art, film, and new media for RSR and the UTS magazine, Vertigo. Zalehah’s poetry was projected onto the Federation Square Wall in Melbourne as part of the Overload Poetry Festivals, 2008 and 2009; exhibited at Mark and Remark ,107 Projects, Redfern in 2013; and displayed in Alice Springs and Moruya thanks to Australian Poetry Café poets, Laurie May and Janette Dadd respectively. Her poems have been published in Writing Laboratory (2013), Sotto (2013), Social Alternatives (2016), Vertigo (2016, 2017), UTS’s The Empathy Poems Project (2017) and Rochford Street Review (2017). She co-judged the New Shoots Poetry Prizes 2016 alongside, Tamryn Bennett, Artistic Director of The Red Room Company, and published the winning and highly commended poems. Zalehah is currently working on an intermedia poetry collection entitled, 'Critical condition', focused on the interstitial threshold between life and death in medical crises based on personal experience. Zalehah holds a BA in Communication with a major in writing and cultural studies from the University of Technology, Sydney where she continues to pursue pushing the boundaries of multimedia poetry in Honours (Communication- Creative Writing).