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July 15, 2024

Periplaneta Americana

By Salvatore Difalco

Periplaneta Americana

Light blazes on: the harsh kitchen whiteness blinds me
back to bed before the scattering and hiding
of swift scouts from a colony of underlife
teeming in the building’s viscera and shadow voids.

(Sleep-fogged, I thought it dawn; I was wrong.)
Leave the light on for no sound reason. Pillow
my head and return to the dream of tundra,
boulders and bonfires, wind and wildflowers.

All good until a woolly mammoth appears
pursued by three Neanderthals in bearskins.
The mammoth thunders over hard-packed snow.
The Neanderthals brandish flint-tipped spears.

Dreams lose their thread so easily. The mammoth
metamorphoses into a great blue whale, inching
along the tundra and now chased by Neanderthals
armed with modern telescoping fishing rods.

The dissonant incongruity tears me from my sheets
bathed in sweat and trembling. Horror comes
in many sultry flavors. Parched, I dart to the kitchen,
phosphorescent white with the lights still blazing.

Eyes clamped shut, I fill a glass with water.
I think I hear rustling but dismiss it as the white
noise of night. I drink the water and feel reborn.
I open my eyes and many things surge to mind.

Fleeing in panic is out of the question.
Mastery of self is cardinal to me, and non-negotiable.
One tickles by my bare left foot and I stomp it flat;
but it sticks to my heel, so much for that.

My god, so many, so many, doing their thing,
busy as hell, ugly as sin—how can you hate them
for grinding away like the rest of us? But maybe when
you start to feel for them, it’s time to find a hobby or a life.

Article © Salvatore Difalco. All rights reserved.
Published on 2023-06-12
Image(s) are public domain.
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