Snake: Second Wind

Second Wind introduces two themes that run through the rest of the Quartet. The first has to do with consumption of things at the expense of things. Appetite, or eating, always happens at the cost of a life or lives. For everything fed some thing dies to feed it.

Appetite takes other forms as well—perhaps not physically fatal but morally or spiritually deadly. Greed for something another owns. Desire for land or possessions. Worth determined by compulsive gathering. Possession and marketing of freedom. Denial of creative expression. These forms of appetite happen in every family—in every country—clinics and hospitals are filled with both perpetrator and victim.

The second primary theme is the idea that thoughts, imaginings, made objects, past events, inert forms, mythical narratives, rumors and beliefs have an actual life and that our history is always incomplete if it doesn’t recognize these are real. The idea of history in Second Wind presumes nothing disappears but is continued in a non temporal reality shifted slightly out of phase from current experience.

These two themes are not far apart since most of history—if not all of it—is fiction. Having been chronicled it immediately becomes an interpretation. It becomes a lie that has power and lives among us often masquerading as truth. And lies are the highways appetites travel between victims.

Snake discovers nothing so little resembles glass that it can’t be broken. Then reassembled through the grace of listening. Second Wind is snake driven into poetry by the thoughts, myths, dreams, gods, demons and all the fictional events and voices that live on even after the bodies that housed them disappear.


“Gary Lemons in this heroic passage through an intense personal mythology is working what Carl Jung might have labeled a real time archetype, meme of the tribe in an attempt to explore the darker humus of text. It is a fabulous and brilliant extension of something like Theodore Roethke meets Philip K. Dick. Gary wants to extend our sense of the lyric sacred aria and yet it is all a picture book that one could lovingly bring to the children’s hour. This is a wonderful book.”—Norman Dubie

“To read Snake: Second Wind is to ride the very tip of the artist’s wet brush—the voice is that fluid, the energy of creation that close. We are moving and we are moved by these lines that can become anything, high, low, mythic, sacred or profane. And when the brush lifts we find Gary Lemons has painted a faithful and devastating likeness of humankind, as destroyer, survivor, consumer, debaucher, mother, liar, and storyteller.”—Kathleen Flenniken

“Through the deranged, visionary, abject voice of Snake, Gary Lemons would have us keep facing the suffering in which we remain complicit. Emptying and filling with power, these eerie poems are spoken by a flickering, remnant throat, mythic and lost, wildly charged with what does not have to be.”—Joanna Klink

A colorful drawing of a snake on a gray background, small black text at the top says "Snake Quartet: Book II" larger black text in the middle says “Snake Second Wind Gary Lemons”

Gary Lemons ( Author Website )

Publication Date: April 19, 2016

Genre/Imprint: Poetry, Red Hen Press

$13.95 Tradepaper

Shop: Red Hen, Bookshop, Barnes & Noble

ISBN: 9781597097482