Nick Rossi

Nick Rossi is a co-founder/editor at Sobotka Literary Magazine and Ursus Americanus Press. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Souvenir Lit, MESMER, Esoteric, MAYDAY magazine, Chicago Literati, and elsewhere. He has a B.A. in History from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and works as a public school teacher. He also writes/plays in a band called Choovanski. He lives and works around Chicago, IL.




The cockroaches in my kitchen have become my friends

crawling out of the cracks in the grout

from the dishwashers handle

from the outlets and the drain


at first I was ambivalent

little bugs on the nighttime counter

searching for sweet beer drops

or scraps of pizza

too small to distinguish from rolling fuzz


but as winter thawed they grew

on warmth and wet dishes

on cups left overnight

I found them swimming in the bottom of an unfinished pint

I was glad I checked


I started pausing before turning on the light

flinching at them scattering for their cracks/holes/creases

big enough now to see legs and shells

scuttling between bottles of Seagram’s

under toaster oven and into places unknown


I bought Roach Motels and cleaning supplies

scrubbed down the countertop

sprayed the cracks and creases

cleared the sink and bleached the drain nightly

drank water


and they disappeared

and I missed them

so I switched back from tap to tonic

and would spill a little to leave as

an olive branch to the blattidae


I filled the fridge with beer

and the sink with cans

and they came back, big and black,

my roachies

feeling our way in the dark


I stood in the kitchen doorway one night

and thought about my new friends

feasting on my sweetness

thriving on their selfishness

I thought about crushing them with my heel, with my fists


until I flipped on the light

and felt their fear

scurrying dumbly into the sticky traps I set

so I filled my mouth with Miller, sprayed it on the counter,

and went back to sleep


and when I woke, I cleaned up my mess before work

and said aloud, “They’re fucking insects, Nick.”

but when I came home I cracked a tab

and waited for the sun to go down

for them to come out and keep me company


but lately I’ve seen them on the far wall

on the other counter and floor by the pantry

slipping under the TV remote

in the teapot and on my toothbrush

places they are not supposed to be


and I’m scared again because I know I’ve lost control

they’ve outgrown me

they don’t need me

so I’m drinking in bed as they breed/crawl/weave/pulse

waiting for me to finish my glass and turn out the light

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