Poetry Friday: My Great Escape

This draft is my response to the Teachers Write mini lesson that Kate Messner posted on Monday.  In it, she asked writers to consider “how might different elements of [a] story look different to different characters?”

To inspire us, Kate shared the story of a king cobra that escaped from a Florida home a few years ago. Despite my irrational fear of snakes, I knew I wanted to write from the cobra’s perspective.

Kate’s new novel, Breakout, is a fictional version of the real-life drama of two inmates escaping from a prison near her home in upstate New York. Three characters tell the story from different points of view, giving readers a more complete picture of events. One character, Lizzie, often manages to find humor in this serious situation. The article about the escaped snake also included humorous Twitter and Facebook posts people wrote at the time, imagining where in the world the snake might be. But I found nothing humorous about the situation. I felt sorry for the poor woman who found the snake, and I really felt sorry for the snake. 

My Great Escape

Stolen from my jungle home,
stuffed into a barren box:
no royal treatment for me.
My days were spent in misery.

Desperate to stretch,
uncoil my sleek brown body
I watched for my chance,
bolted from that ranch.

I slithered through suburbia,
searching for a place to settle:
a bamboo thicket or a fallen tree
where I would be free.

But my dream was not to be…

I was found behind a dryer.
Hissing, hood flared in warning,
I rose up as if on a throne:
Leave me alone!

I put up quite a fight
before Animal Control officers
caught me, ended my spree
and returned me to captivity.

draft © Catherine Flynn, 2018

Please be sure to visit Poetry for Children, where Sylvia Vardell has some exciting news and the Poetry Friday Roundup!

14 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: My Great Escape

  1. Kudos to you for taking the cobra’s view and responding with empathy (despite your fear) and in poetry. I felt most keenly for the woman who discovered the snake, and I played around with a transcript of her call to 911. By the way, I just finished reading Breakout recently and loved it. I’ll definitely be buying it for my classroom!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved the varying POVs in Breakout, too, and now your view, well, the cobra’s, shows how animals really do need to survive in the ways they know. “I rose up as if on a throne:
    Leave me alone!” is possibly what every wild, even domestic, animals wish. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I admire you for taking the cobra’s sympathetic point of view. I’m terribly afraid of snakes and did not take this prompt on. I find humor in your poem, especially the throne, alone lines. That poor woman who found him. How did she not just die on the spot?!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Bravo! You managed to create sympathy for that poor cobra. I’m glad I was not the one to find it. Though I did have a start back in the days I was subbing–the first thing the office told me was to be careful where I put my hands because one of the classroom snakes had escaped during the night. Fortunately, it was found quickly.

    Liked by 1 person

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