Linda Lerner

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A Roach Poem
It's the ones found in New York walkup apartments
I grew up in, century old brownstones I’ve lived inArtwork by Gene McCormick
and sometimes like now been lucky for years
in a space 52’’ long, a half inch wide
too small for the eye to crawl thru but
big enough for imagination to run with
between the stove and sink counter  my luck ran out;
I plunged a knife down to see just what / how far
                                                        and then
the killing began; for every one I got
smaller ones appeared; determined
I unleashed an arsenal of insecticide whose fumes
sent me flying down a familiar Nam Vet’s voice
into another country  sent me to a tunnel near Saigon

so small it was hard for him & his men to get thru
see what booby traps were set where whole
villagers, factories, bomb shelters existed and
clearly now sent me out of my rational mind…
small Vietnamese soldiers morphed into hundreds of
roaches digging this tunnel in my kitchen for years
traps set for them trapped me in a killing mindset:
I didn’t just want to eradicate them from my apartment
but to take out an entire species….
it’s a loosing battle I heard him say and vanish
an exterminator came, sprayed, plugged up holes
be back he said on his way out, leaving his bill
and a pronoun I couldn’t catch

Linda Lerner's latest collection is Takes Guts & Years Sometimes (New York Quarterly Books, June, 2011). She’s previously published thirteen collections of poetry and been nominated twice for a pushcart prize. Her poems have recently appeared in New Verse News, Gutter Eloquence, The Brooklyn Voice, Danse Macabre, Two Bridges, was the featured poet in Presa, Fall 2011, Lummox, Home Planet News and The Mom Egg. Her latest book is Ding Dong the Pussy in the Well (Lummox).