Heloderma suspectum

Gila monster

Eric Magrane



under summer bajadas


                                              & winter foothills


               it is, mostly, a subterranean life


what is known above ground

& what is known below ground


have been sequestered into different fields of meaning






so the story goes, say a coyote is messing with a gila monster & the gila monster bites & won’t let go & the gila monster continues to chew venom into the coyote—but it’s not meant to kill the coyote, just to make that coyote have the worst possible day ever and never mess with that pink and black thing again!






orange & black

                           red & black

                                                 bright pink & black



beady lizard, family of warty skin

quail eggs to eat

it looks like rain is coming but it isn’t






we are human, so we have the crazy stories:


~“the gila monster is venomous because it lacks an anus and ‘all that stuff went bad in there”


~“once they bite down, they don’t let go til sundown”


~“if one bites you, don’t worry, it has to turn upside down to get the venom in you.”


if we could translate, would the gila monster also have crazy stories about us?






All I know is I don’t want to be bitten. I heard it was like rubbing glass into your skin.






Gila Monster, I am speaking to other humans because theirs is the language I speak. I mean this as a form of respect. In my human mind, you are the mystic lizard of the Sonoran Desert. Please have patience with me and my species.





*The gila monster myths (crazy stories) are described in A Natural History of the Sonoran Desert (edited by Phillips & Comus, ASDM Press, 2000.)


Eric Magrane is the editor of Spiral Orb.