Memory Lane and The Vermin of Another Life

Me 1970



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
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
or if she should toss it out the window
to the rats and birds in the alley
After Ma takes a draw on her cigarette
she flings the bread into the bare window sky
The girl watches the smoke curl around the counter
where the bread used to be
She doesnโ€™t deliberate as the remaining cockroaches scatter
she decides
she will put this in her scribbler
where 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 motherโ€™s
newly painted coarse lips
because Mr. Whiskers doesnโ€™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!

16 thoughts on “Memory Lane and The Vermin of Another Life”

  1. It’s been ages since I rested here Val – too long! And I’m really enjoying catching up on your work, which seems so full of eagle-eyed observations now. This poem is lovely. My tummy ached, my skin crawled. I was definitely there.

    1. Feel free to rest here any damn time you like Maxine, you are always welcome and your visits are appreciated. If you felt it, then the child I was just hugged you and said thanks. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Even if bed bug bites are fairly harmless, an allergic reaction to the bites has been known to cause nausea, sickness and even shock on very rare occasions. For fast relief from the bites, you could run it under lukewarm running water for approximately a minute, which will minimize the inflammation and take your mind off it. For other treatment of the bites, you should take some antihistamine or visit your local pharmacy to obtain a suitable cream that will help reduce swelling and relieves the itching. Hopefully this helps! โ€“ Sarah

    1. Thank you Evelyn ๐Ÿ™‚ It was terrible, very horrible but I took it, made a poem and shared a universal truth for too many children. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    1. Thank you Gabe, ๐Ÿ™‚ I didn’t win but it felt good being nominated and Jessie Carty was a doll for seeing my point with all that emotional vomit.

  3. You know what is a definitive line in this poem? ‘she decides’. The way it stands alone, it gives a glimpse of the woman this little girl will become. A very important line which without even realising itself, is like a stake in the ground.

    1. Kiersty, this shocked me. I didn’t see that at all. Of course isn’t that how the old subconscious works? This is why poetry or any artform is a complete revelation to not only the reader/viewer but more so to the artist. You are a very perceptive person and one smart cookie girlfriend. I’m proud and honoured to call you my friend Ms. Boon. HUGS ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thank you Denise. ๐Ÿ™‚ It wasn’t difficult to get in her head, because that little girl was me. Sometimes, when she hears about some cruelty or sufffering or knows of some injustices, she pops up to the surface to have her say. Like now. ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Sometimes Denise, I’m mystified that A. I’m still here and B. I’m as together a I am. Life is a thorny path it is. HUGS

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