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The Snakes Came Back

Lora Mathis

128 pages
Cover art: Mary Herbert
ISBN 9781988355368
Fall 2023

In its palm, time is a gap
that is closing,
But the spirit throws its head to the wind
without hurry.
It has looked out at time’s expanse.
It already knows it’s infinite.

In Lora Mathis’s poems, the body is a temporary resting place for the infinite, resilient soul. The Snakes Came Back follows a speaker contending with trauma in the slipstream of earthly time. Mathis’s poems are peopled with friends and lovers—both named and anonymous, current and past—and invested in necessary interdependence as a means of healing the self. But the self is not fractured. The self is composed of memory, navigating impulses of woundedness with awareness and compassion. Mouths and tongues figure prominently throughout this reflective and forthcoming collection, evocative of the insatiable desire of our hungry ghosts. The mouth is, however, as much a space of hunger and desire as it is an erogenous zone of self-expression and agency. Mapping affective geographies of memory, The Snakes Came Back cracks open everyday tasks and familiar landscapes to reveal their haunting depths. Saturated with heat and wind, Mathis’s poems vibrate with the will to face life’s temporality, its impossible contradictions, its beauty and its pain: “There is loss, but there is renewal too.”


“In The Snakes Came Back, Lora Mathis sets themself free, climbing out of their body, running through fields, careening down highways, longing spilling everywhere. Vulnerable, wise, and playful, these poems are a balm for loneliness — they feel like a hangout with an old friend, kettle whistling in the other room. Her words are as relatable, resonant, and unforgettable as ever.”
Amy Berkowitz, author of Gravitas (NOROIT) and Tender Points (Nightboat Books)

The Snakes Came Back is full of beautiful, graceful sentences, humor that’ll surprise you, and down-to-earth, unpretentious philosophy. Absolutely glorious. You will read this book many times.”
Adam Gnade, author of The Internet Newspaper and After Tonight, Everything Will Be Different

“Lora Mathis’s newest collection of poetry The Snakes Came Back is sure to be a hit with both new and longtime readers. Building on their plethora of work, Mathis bluntly perceives and analyzes the Self and what it means to be a person with layering memories that live within you. The Snakes Came Back and Mathis isn’t afraid of them. There is courage in these poems.”
Erin Taylor, author of Bimboland (Archway Editions, Simon & Schuster)


The Creative Independent – On building and breaking habits: Poet and artist Lora Mathis on the importance of building momentum, bending the process, and tuning into silence when necessary

Librairie Drawn & QuarterlyBest of 2023 – Mari
“I must confess I judged The Snakes Came Back by its cover (positive), and my expectations were very much exceeded. Written by Lora Mathis and published by local coup de coeur Metatron Press, it gave me everything I ask for in a poetry book: a contention with the infinite, a Dionysian experience, and a fun play with imagery. Snakes and tongues sharply cut, dreams slither in and out of consciousness, and the body erupts as mythological as it works through trauma, loss, and the infallible persistence of desire.”

Lora Mathis

Lora Mathis (she/they) is a poet and artist from Southern California. Mathis primarily works in digital mediums, including video, photography, and graphic design. She has been sharing her art and poetry online for the last twelve years, and has utilized digital tools as a part of her practice. She has participated in group and solo shows across the US, Canada, and Europe. Mathis has also performed poetry at universities, festivals, and tours on their own and with their sound collaborator Matty Terrones. Recently, Lora’s practice has been expanding into more physical mediums such as printmaking and sculpture. Mathis came up artistically in the DIY punk scene in San Diego. They have played in several punk bands, and view performing, community organizing, low cost all ages shows, and independent publishing as a part of their practice. They have published two collections of poetry including, The Women Widowed to Themselves (2015; republished 2020). Here I Am In It was published by Burn All Books in 2022. Mathis currently lives in Oakland and is a graduate of UC Berkeley, where she completed her BA in Art Practice and English.