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  • Richard Conniff writes about behavior, in humans and other animals, on two, four, six, and eight legs, plus the occasional slither.

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Poem to a Cockroach

Posted by Richard Conniff on September 16, 2013

Going through my father’s papers, I came across a poem I wrote in about 1980.

It was an homage to the Robert Burns poem “To a Mouse“:

TO A ROACH WHO JOINED ME 

FOR DINNER AT AN ELEGANT RESTAURANT

Omnivorous, fat, and brazen bug,

Making this tablecloth your rug,

Stirs there no panic in thy thorax

Of Roach Motel, Bug Getter, Borax?

Of anthropocentric folk who’d like

To stop your crawling with a spike?

Would you restore the social union

Of Man and Nature in communion

Here amidst the silverware?

Roach bold! Roach brave! Roach debonair!

Roach feasting on my butter stain,

My olive pits, my spilled champagne!

On tabletop where all can see

We’re joined in sweet ecology,

Blattidae blessed, ever friend!

But brotherhood’s boring. Crunch!  The end.

–Richard Conniff

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One Response to “Poem to a Cockroach”

  1. That ending suggests I was also thinking about the scene in Stanley Kubrick’s World War I film “Paths of Glory,” where the condemned soldiers are awaiting execution in the morning:

    Corporal Paris (pathetically): See that cockroach? Tomorrow morning, we’ll be dead and it’ll be alive. It’ll have more contact with my wife and child than I will. I’ll be nothing, and it’ll be alive.
    Private Ferol (the cynic, smashing the roach with his hand): Now you got the edge on him.

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