Coco was a teenage biopirate, carrier for black market pharma
— exotic molluscs, translucent frogs, baby anacondas —
or some faceless collector’s grim menagerie.
By nightfall she’d wait for the three-tiered bus
to the airstrip, her booty bag slung, bulged with critters,
and the condors mooning over the canopy, the still-warm roads.
through the palm carpeted treks and trails along the lower
Sierra, your guide via plantations, coffee fields and when she halts,
stop among the vinery and miry greens, the trills and honks,
tree crickets and circus birds.
Be motionless, cancel out
those signature sounds of the cloud forest. Beware — a dangled ankle
is a beacon for the Spearhead, yellow-tailed, pintsize pikestaff,
minor deity of the jungle creeks and litterfall.
Milliards of ants infest the ferns, merge with the dark
diamonds of its skin, so at Coco’s point retreat like a Panto thief.
The strike can be zip-quick, a slingshot nip or prick
that flushes to a solar burn.
Samuel Prince’s poems have appeared in various journals and anthologies. His debut collection, Ulterior Atmospheres, was published in 2020 as a collection competition winner by Live Canon. “Fer-de-Lance Trafficker” is part of a series of poems which use a specific species of venomous snake as their starting and organizing point for composition. Previously, individual poems from this series have been published by Deep Wild Journal and Atticus Review and won the 2018 Café Writers Competition. He lives in Norfolk, UK.