local_library To Fell Roaches

by Michelle Menting

Published in Issue No. 183 ~ August, 2012

Cockroaches Respond to Peer Pressure, Study Suggests

— The New York Times


In nuclear fallout films—like the ones

my brothers watched on Sunday noons

between the Packers and the Vikings,

on our only channel with clear pictures

—cockroaches ruled.

It didn’t matter that the heroine

had big breasts, enough fat to handle

the starved weeks ahead, or the hero

was crafty with pipe-bombs and wheat germ.

Even if the couple and the orphaned 5th-grader,

a tagalong with his stray-dog blue heeler

(cleverly named Blue), escaped the zombies

and leather-clad neo-Nazis,

the bugs would get them

in the end. In apocalyptic films,

insects always inherit the earth.

If only the hero (the war vet

who lost everything) or heroine (rail-thin

with two exceptions) or that scrappy kid

with 180 IQ, or even Dog Blue, knew

about peer pressure and how to engage

a single cockroach in a game of Truth

or Dare. Then surely, like lemmings running

over the edge, all those roaches would have fallen.

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Michelle Menting has published writing in Bellingham Review, Crab Creek Review, Silk Road Review, Midwestern Gothic, and other journals. She currently lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, where she is a PhD candidate at UNL and serves as the Associate Senior Poetry Reader for Prairie Schooner.