Cockroaches and White Bread

On a chair
three legs sturdy
one loose
sits a girl
eyes scanning the tenement kitchen
scratching bed bug bites
and watching the cockroaches
crawling like babies
across the last slice of white bread
she counts eleven
then imagines one hundred elevens
because ma says there are many times more than what you see
of anything
but she knows there is only one slice of bread
and no milk
ma deliberates over whether to chase away the roaches
and divide the bread equally to fill a small square space of hunger
toss it out the window to the rats and birds in the alley
After she takes a draw on her cigarette, she flings the bread into the bare window sky
the six year old girl watches the smoke curl around the counter where the bread used to be
she doesn’t deliberate as the remaining cockroaches scatter
she decides
she will put this in her scribbler
when her printing is as neat as the words in her Mr. Whiskers grade one reader
But she makes a mental note to leave out the fucks and goddamns that are now drifting flippantly from her mother’s newly painted course lips
because Mr. Whiskers doesn’t swear


Author: valo

I am a poet, writer and activist with a special interest in human rights for children and women as well as the elimination of poverty worldwide. If you read this today, feed someone locally for me will you? Drop off a non perishable food item at the food bank nearest you and consider yourself hugged. Thank you!

10 thoughts on “Cockroaches and White Bread”

    1. The only image I had was a memory Kevin and many times, that is much more potent as it is coloured in by emotion. It’s good to see you here again! I’m happy you liked this poem. 🙂

    1. Well B, it went like this here: I scribbled, ma smoked and cursed. Then later, I scribbled and we both smoked and cursed. Then still later, I scribbled, she smoked and we both cursed. Then at long last, she died, I scribbled, smoked for a while and cursed. Now, I just scribble and curse. Thank you for liking my scribbling and cursing. You know I can’t go for very long without writing at least one expletive but you will have to do the smoking for me okay? :0

  1. Would it be twisted and sick of me dear Bryan, to be ecstatic that you are jealous of those lines? lol Ah shit, who cares, I AM ECSTATIC that you are jealous of those lines hehehehe hugs

  2. Val – I LOVE this! Seriously, I’d probably edit to clean up some lines a bit but I’d totally publish something like this in Referential (hint we are reading for featured pieces!!!!) i’ve tried for years to write about the woman who babysat us for a while. she lived in the projects and there were cockroaches in the bathroom but having them was unavoidable. she was so apologetic to us about it. us. kids.

    1. Ah Jessie, the wonderful memories of childhood! lol Your babysitter sounds charming, as do those scampering critters. I think roaches are my spirit animal lol They’ve always been part of my reality at one time or another. I emailed it to ya girl, do with it what you want hugs If you like it, it must have something of value in it. I just sit here, when I have the time and when the mood strikes me and vomit out my life in the gutter. I like Oscar Wilde’s take on it: We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars. Dat be me. 🙂

      1. Roaches would be fitting wouldn’t they? Cause they just keep going and going and going despite all the crap. I love that quote from Oscar Wilde. I’d like to think I’m looking at the stars too 🙂

      2. You look at a star every time you look in the mirror Ms. Jessie, and don’t forget it! Oscar told me so. 🙂

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