Maren Mitchell, “Cockroach as Balboa”

Maren Mitchell
COCKROACH AS BALBOA

In the light of night, validated, he stands triumphant,
soaking up azure with sailor eyes,

(as though still scanning thin blue ink horizons
for land signs, breathing salt under merciless suns)

feet widely planted on the shimmering slope,
lean chest out-thrust,

sinewy shoulders braced,
belt cinched against the threat of starvation,

willing to eat anything,
smaller, more vulnerable than relatives left

behind in the sultry metropolis on the other side of the world.
The new-found surf beats furiously up the cliffs.

Spray almost wets his dark, parched face.
In a revealing flash the Heavens open; night is gone.

He is naked. In his remaining fraction
he relives gains, losses, regrets.

Fate descends.

Author’s Comment: One night I clicked on the bathroom light, and perched on an upgrade slope of a white facial tissue was one of the more elegantly shaped cockroaches, strikingly proud in its stance, overlooking the wash basin. Although I squashed him, I could not forget him.

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18 thoughts on “Maren Mitchell, “Cockroach as Balboa”

  1. Every insect should be so fortunate as to find himself in the presence of you, Maren. You make them immortal in your poetry. You know I love these tiny things poems you write.

    • Thank you, Glenda, for appreciation of my poems of the small. As a writer yourself, you know that what we write about becomes immortalized, at least within our own minds!

  2. I can’t believe that your poem made me picture its subject without a shudder. Spiders and roaches: the only two creatures I really abhor, and now I see that cocky (pun?) fellow and smile. A propos of the remark above–nothing is too small for a poem, is it?

    • Cockroaches are not a favorite of mine either. This was an exception. Thanks for seeing him as I did. I do truly believe that any subject can be fair game for a poem of worth.

  3. Reminiscent of Frost’s “A Considerable Speck” and Alex Grant’s “Giant.” Having grown up in trailer parks across the Carolinas, I have to admit I have never seen a cockroach that I could think of as “elegant,” albeit a number of other adjectives come immediately to mind.

    • Honestly, Maren,have you given any thought to the harem of grieving female cockroaches, still wondering where their handsome hero skittered off to?
      Tsk, Tsk! Loved it!

  4. Maren, I love it. I’ll look at insects differently now, hoping to find another Balboa. So many good lines — please bring it to the Shallow End; we should hear you read it.

  5. I’ll never view cockroaches quite the same again. Thank you for showing me a different side of existence- at least for this proud specimen…or is it the reverse: Balboa as cockroach? Just one of many to invade the territory of others? Enjoyed it immensely, Maren!

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