Rats!

You think these are your precincts, but they’re ours.
We’re the ones who frightened Mother Eve
to bite into that sex-sweet peach, not
the snake. We snitched to God and ate the left-
overs. We rule the underneath along
with Sisters Roach. You think it’s you who are
obsessed with love? We watch you go at it,
and we laugh. Twenty times a day,
for us. Fifteen thousand little ones
a year to scratch and gnaw. We mean you best
of health, wealth enough to eat in haste,
in waste. We pay in hantavirus, plague,
typhoid, filth, Black Death. Look quick
after turning on the kitchen light,
before walking barefoot in the night,
or sitting to relieve yourselves. We’re here,
those flea-rife fears just out of mind, sight,
tiny bites on baby’s hands, a trail
of telltale crumbs, turds, squeaks, and all
the nightmare stinks. Tell your children what
we tell our own, Good night, little ones.
Don’t sleep tight. There’s more concealed
in dark and light than you can ever know.

About David Citino:
David Citino is the author of twelve volumes of poetry, most recently The News and Other Poems (University of Notre Dame Press) and The Book of Appassionata: Collected Poems and The Invention of Secrecy (both from Ohio State University Press). Paperwork (Kent State University Press), a collection of essays, was published in 2004. He is contributing editor of The Eye of Poetry: Six Views of the Art and Craft of Poetry (Oxford), and teaches at Ohio State, where he is Poet Laureate of the University.