The Nacreous Oughts

02 April 2009

"Atomic Roach Poem"

they are fewer every day
the roaches, since i left them bitter candy.
plastic chapels invite them in.
then they go back bearing lingering evangel.
i never see the corpses;
even the ones i smash get carted off
& eaten in huggermugger,
their way of refusing to concede.
i used to say jokingly
"don't touch that roach!
it might end up the sole survivor
from a nuclear war, & repopulate the earth."
i never spoke to them then.
i kind of identified
with their secretiveness,
their perpetual ineffectual conspiracy.
but now i know
they outnumber us in the cities a hundred to one
& hide for play not fear.
the news makes them tremble with excitement.
perhaps this day will be the day
they get to use their radiation-resistance
a thousand times higher
than any other creature
on this provident planet, that foresaw even Raygun.

i almost mourn the roaches
now that they're endangered, just like me--
a new kind of poison
is right this moment climbing the food chain,
no doubt to be banned
in the year 2000.
by which time my liver will have garnered toxic dose.
i try to forewarn them,
admonish them to live in the present.
"enjoy while you can,
these runaway rice crumbs lodged in the nappy mauve.
your days are numbered
& your number's up;
& soon when i turn on the kitchen light
only shadows will scatter."

but what of Adam & Eve
in that soot-shrouded dawning?
will only our robots be left
winding down on distant shores,
their telemetry unacknowledged?
i keep my journal
in an acid-free notebok to last 3 centuries:
from somewhere i have won
assurance of no precipitate foreclosure.
i don't know why.
it started when i quit listening to the news.


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