Nights they blackened brick walls
like paint or tar, oil
smeared with rainbows from heat.
It wasn't their skin,
but their blood. Quick packs at dusk:
consuming every mosquito.
Disoriented, dark and sputtering,
fists of balled paper and minor
catastrophe: bumping light bulbs,
breaking lamps, flitting
into our hair. What we knew was
barricade and protection.
Was nothing. We wondered about
the rest: hiding in crawlspaces,
escaping through shotgun hallways,
swinging broom handles
like Middle Age maces, aiming
rackets and gripped buckets
in duress. What did we do? We all
asked ourselves. Helpless:
What happened to our homes? But they
weren't biting. They
only wanted a way out, an exit
we hadn't planned for.
Open windows didn't pull them
toward sky. With nothing
to eat they soared and crashed.
But some flew out—
plummeting wingless to sidewalks
as we ducked and covered
with blankets and tablecloths.
Hours like weeks
we waited. Then the falling: each pop
a muffled gun shot,
writhing only for minutes.
Who punished us? Someone
whispered: This is the way it must be.