The Holy Roller Church of Serpents
is set in a notch of a steep knob. You cross
a rope-bridge to get there, remove
your thinking cap to roll with the irrational
spectacle when Reverend Righteous
taunts the snakes, tests his faith against venom.
He provokes and worries a pair of rattlers
held in each hand, stokes the backwoods
parishioners with his calls for supplication.
They fall into the aisles, shouting gibberish.
The hiss sharpens before one sinks fangs in,
poison doing what it’s known to do. Here’s hoping
a confederate milks these monsters
before the service, a measure of dilution.
Someone asked the Reverend if belief
was sufficient fix. Should they summon EMTs?
He let the Almighty save him,
but Darwinism culled him from the herd.
Amen. Self-selecting know-nothings
pick up those dropped snakes, they tempt fate
further, slain in the spirit, rolling.
Now and then one’s literally slain.
TODD MERCER won the Grand Rapids Festival of the Arts Flash Fiction Award for 2015. His digital chapbook, Life-wish Maintenance, appeared at Right Hand Pointing. His story, “Because Hipsters” was read at Liars’ League NYC. Mercer won the first Woodstock Writers Festival’s Flash Fiction contest. Mercer's recent poetry and fiction appear in Apocrypha & Abstractions, Bartleby Snopes, Blast Furnace, Cheap Pop, Dunes Review, Eunoia Review, Gravel, Kentucky Review, The Lake, The Legendary, Literary Orphans, Main Street Rag Anthologies, Misty Mountain Review, SOFTBLOW Journal and Two Cities Review.