A Snake in the Mango Shack by Dan McLeod

art by David Clode

The burn on the roof of my mouth is rotten

and rotting. Sitting back hoping for nature’s healing touch

seems far too passive – always too passive.

I’m going to throw the bulk of my skull away

marking off

and disposing of all above the molars

with hacksaw

with bandsaw

with eyesore.

Opening wide

sliding blades of salvation back

beyond the roll of my tongue,

sucking away at the steel

like a mango.

My fat face will slice away easily enough –

but the hard work will come

in the gristle

and the brainstem

and the bone

but with steady hand, I’ll make it through

with my bottom jaw and tongue still intact,

I’ll become the ambitious lover

my wife has always wanted,

bringing pleasure to her

like never before

the bridge of my nose

and my unsure eyes

and crooked top teeth

no longer halting me

limiting me.

Free from its bondage, my tongue unfurling

into my wife, like an egg-sucking serpent.

Writhing upwards, towards the soft core

licking her bladder bag

lapping her blood

and tasting

her fertile


Dan McLeod works as a copywriter and barista in Melbourne, Australia. His short story Plunging Silver was published in the 2017 Newcastle Short Story Anthology. He has contributed articles and reviews for several Australian music websites, and cites Pedro Juan Gutierrez, John Fante and Karl Hyde as influences.

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