“Late Night Conversations with a Cockroach” by Amardeep Kaur3 min read

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Illustration by Lay Hoon (Arty Guava)

Shzzzzs, our little secret:
Many nights I slept with you on the Kowloon floor.
Then why would I be bothered by you
underneath the sinks and cracks
of my Regent Park neighbourhood?
In Tsim Sha Tsui, I’d wrap my little tired body,
tightly, in layered blankets –
my head and face fully covered.
My parents worried I would suffocate in sleep.
Little did they know of our deal:
me on this side of the fabric
you on the other side.
Sometimes I could tell you were nearby.
Should I peek up?
Your radio antennas and peripheral sight emitted
onto me ……. a telepathic sense.
But this will be our secret,
they won’t understand it here.
When I lay awake on the sofa,
I feel close to your presence, I am not alone,
another creature crawls night with me.

Now the Darwins have hoarded box stores. But they still
won’t wear a face suit. Do they not know? If Covid doesn’t
flatten soon, it will be you and not them eating all this food.
So I cannot help but ponder, if we reach such a moment,
would I, ever, attempt to boil you and make roach soup?
Humans may perish, and you may be the only ones left.
Make me a promise and crawl up to the nightdesk, punch
the keys with those long feelers, all that I could not write.
Let world know of once a species that killed each other
extinct, but whose stories you carry now in your genes.

“Cockroaches, cockroaches”, the policeman yells.
When Darwin created race
He threw you bottom of the table as well.
Now all wannabe Urban States
send blue troopers wearing terminator vests:
vapor, projectiles, barbed wire,
cannons, guns, bullets, tasers, tanks.
Blood drips, eyes burnt,
throats squeezed.
Skin, feelers kicked and ripped.
But we are roaches:
black, brown, red, yellow
opaque and transparent.
No traps, nor nukes, no law
can change our breeding truth.
During lunch, we strike
flowing with water, thrive.
Gas, retreat. Disaster, adapt.
Along pipes, merge
with night, we fly.
Serpents, birds, insects, and now
hybrid human selves


Amardeep Kaur is a Hongkonger presently living in Toronto, Canada. She holds a PhD in Geography and a graduate diploma in Asian Studies from York University. Kaur has taught at University of Toronto on courses Canada-Hong Kong Migration and Introduction to Sikhism. Her poems “Red Dye” and “Morning, Evening” have appeared on the Sikh Cast.

Lay Hoon aka Arty Guava is an Illustrator and Graphic Designer based in Vancouver. She grew up in Malaysia and spent most of her adult life in Singapore before moving to Canada. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Bioengineering but chose to make a career switch after about 1 year of working in the field. Art and Design have always been her calling. She is passionate about culture, people and nature and how these themes interact with each other. Her work is available at artyguava.com/illustration

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