After dreaming on and off all last night of falling rain, I woke to find this poem on a sheet of foolscap someone had left in the old typewriter I still keep on the shelf. I surmise it is a response to my poem, A Malison.
tell me mr why so glum question mark
yr time will go and ours will come.
why so bitter question mark why so vexed question mark
you ve had yr turn and we are next.
for that s how evolution works
progress comes in fits and jerks.
the future s not as bad as it appears
a lot can happen in a billion years.
roaches will learn to dig and build
and after the sun explodes we ll be here still.
survival of the fittest is another term for fate.
we roaches understand. we wait.
Image: this is not, alas, a picture of my typewriter (though I do have a typewriter, just not one this beautifully photographed), nor is it, thankfully, a picture of my cockroach. (Don’t tell me you missed the cockroach?) Rather, this image is a collage of Typewriter by Flickr user xlibber, and 蟑螂合租 Yunnan Cockroach Roommate by Flickr user David and Jessie; both images are published under a Creative Commons Attribution Generic 2.0 (CC BY 2.0) license.
The poem is, of course, in form and voice a nod to Archy the cockroach, who wrote poetry by jumping on the keys of Don Marquis’s typewriter during the night, and composed exclusively in the lower case since he was unable to work the shift key. (Archy was also famously and proudly a vers libre poet, so there’s another of my seemingly endless liberties.)
I love any homage to archy the cockroach. I can quote a number of his epigrams – e.g. “If you must drink hair restorer, be sure to quaff a glass of depilatory as a chaser.” And his friend Mehitabel the Cat was an early model for the rebellious stay-at-home mom – “Why am I stuck with all these damn kittens?”
Yes! Did you also know (God bless Vinton Cerf) that there is a Don Marquis web page to love too? http://donmarquis.com/