Office holders and political people,
Bush, Obama, Cheney, Old Man Bush,
Michelle, Hilary, Bill, Condoleezza Rice,
The living and dead, Nixon, Kennedy,
Dwight Eisenhower, all had bedbugs
But they neither saw nor suspected
That bedbugs were biting them.
At the Stanhope Hotel, at the Pierre,
At the Mirage Hotel of Beverly Hills
In the early morning silence bedbugs
Awaken as heedless we slumber,
As we bathe, as we have intercourse
Bedbugs peer from their hiding places
And we are oblivious of the bedbugs.
A stunning woman of fashion
On Fifth Avenue – for the bedbugs
In her iPhone it is a simple matter
Amid her chat and gab to ear-enter
Her like some harebrained marketing
Jingle and then deep within her
The bedbugs pitch their palaces.
Likewise the poor have bedbugs.
Egalitarians, equal opportunity
Enjoyers, true democrats are
The bedbugs for whom not
Solomon in all his glory enticed
Like a homeless man asleep in
A doorway or on a subway grate.
What can be done about bedbugs?
Go Google bedbug poisons or
How to kill bedbugs or natural enemies
Of bedbugs and you will find sprays,
Ointments, and simple inexpensive
Home remedies like dish soap that
Annoy bedbugs but not to death.
Much then can be done about bedbugs
But (really) nothing can be done about
Them. We slather ourselves with soap,
We fumigate, we fuss and fulminate,
We literally get down on our knees and
Pray to God and in that same hour we
Get bitten, we get dozens of bites.
Still by all means let us spray and
Slather, let us turn up the thermostats
In our apartments because bedbugs
Hate heat, let us leave no stone unturned
And the end of all our slathering and
Thermostating will be to know the
Futility of slathering and of thermostats.
Then let that knowing inspire all
Humankind to a frenzied piling up
Of mattresses in the world’s cities,
Towns, and fields – pillows, bedclothes
Piled high and burned by huge mobs
Fed up with bedbugs, joyful at mattresses
Burning if the bedbugs are also burning.
Let a crazed energy as in the poet’s
Vision of how Pandemonium was built
Grip all humanity and from that energy
Let bitter knowledge emerge that burning
Mattresses, pillows, and bedclothes is not
Enough for complete and total bedbug
Extermination because everything must burn!
Then onto the flaming mattresses let gold
Jewelry be flung, MacBooks, Big Bird t-shirts,
Watches and handbags, ATM cards, bras,
You name it, let even hundred dollar
Bills eagerly be flung lest bedbug eggs
Adhere to the hundred dollar bills
To say nothing of the twenties or tens.
Shrieking women tearing off their blouses,
Men – husbands, sons, lovers – flinging
Accoutrements of masculinity such as
Barn coats, beer cans, cowboy boots,
Baseball mitts and football jerseys
Into the flames to deny a refuge
To even one goddamned bedbug!
Yet as hand in hand the mobs dance
Naked around the fires in a hurly-burly
Unprecedented historically by pyramids
Or potlatches another grim awareness
Must dawn: no need have bedbugs for
The things of men when men themselves
Are so safe, succulent, and stupid.
At this a silence descends, befuddlement,
Despair, and mere surrender to the notion
Of bedbugs in the crevices of one’s own
Corpus finding room and blood until
Suddenly with a war whoop someone
Whose name will never be known
Flings himself or herself into the flames!
Then without hesitation and even with relief
Here a Hottentot, there a hedge fund manager,
Here a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet
Immolate themselves and their differences go
Up in smoke. What a spectacle but what irony
That the grander it becomes, the fewer are left
To admire it and I will be the last of all.
For like Captain Snuffy Shemengenopolous --
What was his name, the guy who crashed
His plane in the river? -- I will usher others
Out and then as Nixon did when last he
Ascended into his helicopter, waving my arms
I will address the barren landscape, I will cry,
“Bedbugs! You can have it! It’s all yours!”