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The Cockroach

by Heather Cousins

  • Last night our dog gave her
  • “Something’s wrong” bark—loud,
  • electric yap-yap, and showed us
  • a cornered monster—
  • ancient black shell, flat body,
  • saw legs, wispy alien
  • antennae. In Latin,
  • it is “blatta,” bleating
  • sound the tongue wants to make,
  • spitting it away—cursing, shivering,
  • shoving it in the trash bin
  • of the brain: bitter rat, fat bladder
  • of darkness, full of yellow
  • bile. This one’s too big
  • to crush—How did it get so large?
  • Where has it been hiding all
  • our lives! In dark corners,
  • growing, nibbling, watching
  • us, hating our lights. We are
  • poor and foolish—How much
  • of what we do is a lie?—
  • now that this ancient thing
  • is looking with its fecal head
  • at me, my husband, and our growling,
  • well-trained dog. How long
  • are we going to have to stand
  • here, facing it?—this black coprolite,
  • smug in its plans to wait out all
  • of human history.


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