Cockroach – Underbelly

ì just killed a cóckroach
in a minute and a half.
one–two–three–four
(i could’ve but i did not stop);
five–six–seven–eight
(phutphutphutphut) –
and, suddenly, it was too late:
the roach lay writhing on the ground,
its legs were smashed – beyond escape.

i turned my head and saw myself
inside the mirror on the door
(headphones arched over a crumpled face);
i looked at me and returned to the floor.

old memories all flew in different ways
like a flock of birds unperched:
the stepped-on ant again stepped on,
the mice i saw beat by the broom,
the spider and the spider-web – both gone.

…i wish now i had chosen to
brush off the cockroach like it brushed my foot.

…and was i right? or was i wrong?
(a cockroach-court would sentence me i’m sure);
but i would ask for leniency
and time and charity
to regret my choice – and then create
a life-and-death-philosophy.


(begun on Jan 30, 2019 and finished on Feb 3, 2019)

For more about the poem, see notes.

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