Fiction & Poetry

Lines to a Cockroach Cave

 by Melvin Li

The surface of water, when disturbed, erupts outward—

Fleeing harmoniously in a perfect ring.

The omniscient, efficient, and delicious mountain below

Leaps up as if to catch the falling star. Hundreds of millions

Of years led to billions of patient mouths, but only

The few dozen under the treat can enjoy the best of the day’s prize.

Still others nearby rush to the site and demonstrate

The opposite of the rippling effect, creating a small hill

On the side of the teeming mound.

Guano, nectar of the heavens, is all the tiniest nymph

Ever needs. But even the oldest mother alive

Is always glad for a visit to the factory of a lifetime

Of sweets. Nothing can replace flesh and passion—

The lustful motions of countless mouthparts

Make skeletons of small mammals in a matter of hours.

True kissing, however, is for asses, which when rubbed

Together on occasion, Yield more young eaters for company.

These grow upon the rising mountain, shedding

Their shells and learning the best drop zones on the slope.

The six-legged tubes live to share, eating shit and

Shitting for others to eat. When finished they simply rest

And are often swallowed up by neighbors. The rejected

Join the skeletons underneath thickening layers of life,

Lust, and litter to be crushed to dust.

There is no progress unless one goes by mound height

Which in theory should rise with the Screeching ceiling.

Otherwise there is the cycle of corpse-eating that

Leads to corpses. The essence of a single being,

After being eaten, moved, and eaten may make its way

Around the entire cave in a few generations.

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