AMONG THE COCKROACHES
There was a cold wind
Rain turned to hail and thunder reverberated in the valley
A small bomb exploded near the river edge and the man looked away
When fire spread from bank to bank he laughed over his shoulder
and the light crackling through rain illuminated his face
Hideous mask utterly mad bleak eyes stared back at the inferno
Lightning struck a buoy and the quick shadow of a seagull
blew away on the storm
Sirens sounding doppler doublings neared
and the man bent homeward
Soon it would be day
Rising sun finding out the undead
Far off another clerk ullulated and the dark figure
hurrying along howled answer
An hour passed when morning brightened so the reborn clerks emerge.
Without their masks they look completely untalented.
They wait in line like ordinary people.
Drive cars to exact spaces in replica places.
Sit at desks in similar rows.
They have no original thought among them all.
The man who witnessed the fire is one of these.
He is a principal example.
He sucks blood at work.
Our blood for our money.
Then he goes home.
There he puts on his mask.
He falls to the floor.
He grovels among his cockroaches.
Chooses one and another and another more.
Crunching them juices exuding from mouth spitting legs.
Grey rain persisted, so
there was no dawn, instead
a lessening of night.
Sad birds crooned unseen
and once, a dog shouted
as invisible trains began
and a milkman floated,
flitting door to door.
The street had an abstract air
and most of the houses were drear;
mysterious doorbells studded porches,
paint peeled around poxy windows,
oddly curtained, and in gateless gardens
numbered dustbins with decrepit lids;
there was almost a smell
of decomposition and always,
somewhere, the sound
of a toilet flushing.
In one of the rooms
the dead man woke.
He lay looking at the wall
opposite his bed, a moment
uncertain where he was;
on the floor beside him
a flat bottle quite dry
and an open book;
morning light seeping
through carelessly drawn shades.
Outside, doors slammed, cars started,
runners drummed, the same dog scavenged
and more birds essayed song.
There were few children.
The dead man came out
and began to walk,
at pavement's edge,
hands deep, head bowed,
The rain redoubled.
A manic pedestrian knocked him
into the path of a speeding car
that struck him so hard
his back snapped.
Passers-by soon gathered to stare
at the body bleeding broken
in the gutter;
those with umbrellas raised them
and raindrops sparkled
on the black shroud.
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