The Most Evil Man in the Universe

blazed on the back of his jacket
with a skull and coiled serpent on top.

Ahead of me at the Safeway checkout,
this brawny guy could be a bouncer or wrestler
or maybe leader of some motorcycle gang.

I ask him what's the meaning of his jacket
and he growls "Death to those crossing my way!"
But the serpent is a symbol of healing I tell him—

Better not get too technical with news
about α-bungarotoxin and cobra venom
used now in medicine for stroke patients.

Instead I tell him about Asclepius,
son of Apollo, whose serpent-entwined staff
healed everyone, even raising the dead.

Zeus got so jealous and killed him with
a thunderbolt (but I dare not mention this
killing so my talk would remain positive).

So I tell him about kundalini—
the serpent asleep at the base of our spine
that is awakened by meditation

ascending the chakras like a fountain of light
to the top of our head's crown chakra
as the thousand-petalled lotus—

the halo you see around Buddha and Christ,
that Hippocrates, Father of Medicine chose
the caduceus as the physician's logo—

quite a foresight as those twin snakes on a
winged rod resemble the DNA double helix
carrying the genetic chromosomes of life.

"You're telling me that I'm not evil but good"
he laughs. Then raising his hand he gives me
a hearty high-five— "You've made my day!"

                — Peter Y. Chou
                     Mountain View, 4-1-2009