I was originally going to put up a pre-election post on current electoral “abnormalities” such as voter suppression, the money = speech nonsense, and . . . well, you know. Problem is, I couldn’t find the time in the last few days to pen a 5000 page book. So . . .
I checked my email instead and noticed a fresh one from my old college buddy-now-turned-wildlife-photographer Denny Green with subject line “Rattlers.” Following a quick peek at the attachments, my focus immediately shifted from “human” political snakes to the real thing.
And wouldn’t you know, the photo perusal wound up reminding me of another old friend, a retired educator-become-poet who called himself Grandpa Tucker, a gifted gentleman who spent his last few years working with middle school children and helping them gain an appreciation of poetry AND in the process, an understanding of life as well. He spent a year or two interfacing with a 7th grade class (in another state) via the internet, via email. He wrote an entire book of poetry in the process, including more than a dozen long story poems that featured the hero — a special critter named Sammy Snake. Sammy was one of the good guys, a snake with an attitude that, for some mysterious reason, meshed with the collection of attitudes commonly attributed to seventh graders.😀
Anyway, to make a long story short, several Denny Green photos of a cool and calm Arizona Mojave Rattlesnake quickly merged with those poetic Sammy Snake ramblings by the one and only Bob Tucker. I’ll not try to cover the entire scope of Sammy here, but I thought it might be fun to mix up a few of Denny’s photos with a handful of verses from the first of Grandpa Tucker’s Sammy Snake poems.
Sammy Snake had a dozen brothers,
But he just wasn’t like the others.
They were nice and crawled real straight,
While Sammy moved like the figure eight.
Sammy was a problem child
Whose wiggle waggled kinda wild.
This little guy rejoiced in seeing
A badly frightened human being
Once in a while, for stuff to do,
He’d hide in some girl’s empty shoe.
When she looked in, he’d holler, “BOO!”
Sometime he scared old ladies, too.
One time in church, he went in late,
Hid out in the collection plate.
And as they passed it down the aisle,
He flicked his tongue and hissed a smile. [. . .]
That’s how the poem begins; it continues for another 18 verses, then concludes with these final thoughts:
He changed and lived “The Golden Rule,”
And tried his best to learn in school.
Then earned a Smart Old Snake Degree,
At Wiggle University.
His article, “Be Nice, Not Mean,”
Appeared in Playboa Magazine.
Sammy had reformed, it’s clear,
Was voted “Serpent of the Year.”
So, all you other little snakes,
Be good, no matter what it takes.
No one’s perfect, but believe,
It just gets worse if you deceive.
So live a life that’s good and true,
Make other snakes believe in you,
And you’ll be doing what it takes
To fill the world with happy snakes.
I can’t help but think it’d be a grand thing if our politicians could somehow elevate themselves to reflect the forthrightness of a Mojave Rattler with the intellectual acuity of Sammy Snake. But then, well, you know . . .
Note: Photos © Denny Green, Tempe AZ; Sammy Snake poem excerpts from Grandpa Tucker’s Rhymes & Tales (1999), ISBM 1-929146-00-0, by the late Bob Tucker; R.I.P.