Bugs Galore

posted Sep 16, 2014

When I went to Israel with your father,
mother said, everyone warned us about

the violence, but forgot to warn us about
the bugs. The bugs were fierce biting

me mercilessly having my blood
for an appetizer, the main meal

and dessert. They were so hungry
they bit me in the same spots twice.

I swear I could hear the bugs talking
to each other: "There goes some Americans

on the bus let's taste them now before
they leave the country the Israelis

we can bite any old time." It got to the point
where I couldn't use perfume the smell

attracted them. I was afraid of dying
from sleeping sickness. A guy

on the same tour said you can only
get that in Africa from Tsetse flies.

But it's not like the bugs have to show
passports at the borders. They'll sneak

into Israel from Africa and fly back.

Hal Sirowitz is the author of six books of poetry, Mother Said; My Therapist Said; Father Said; Before, During & After; and Stray Cat Blues. His work has been translated into thirteen languages including Icelandic, Turkish, and Macedonian. Garrison Keillor has read his work on NPR's the Writer's Almanac and he has included Hal's poems in his anthologies, Good Poems and Good Poems for Hard Times. Hal has performed and appeared on MTV's Spoken Word Unplugged, PBS's Poetry Heaven, NPR's All Things Considered, PBS's The United States of Poetry and Fresh Air with Terry Gross. Awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship, Hal is the former Poet Laureate of Queens, New York.

Sirowitz’s poem “I Hate Purple” also appears in this issue.