During childhood I’d fear cockroaches
rushing forward fast as if to pounce on me
I ran away and cried out loud for help

When tiny – a bit long and grisly – insects
creeped before me, panic gripped my nerves
I walked away on quick steps for my safety

Every time I sought help or cringed away
in fear of cockroaches or creeping insects
my mother stormed to me and gave courage

She tried to convince me they’re harmless
Even snakes don’t bite if you don’t hurt them
I wanted to believe her, but fear didn’t dissipate

Panic still seizes me, I still fear but in no way
cockroaches or any creeping insects – I too
remember my mother’s words about snakes

Now I see every day how the eyes that were
once full of love, humility gaze at decent faces,
how they hone knives and tongues and teeth

Now I often meet Gregor Samsa in dreams
and seek advice from Daphne. They tell me –
life is better as a bug, more temperate as a tree


MOHAMMAD SHAFIQUL ISLAM is the author of three books: Wings of Winds (Poetry, 2015), Humayun Ahmed: Selected Short Stories (Translation, 2016) and Aphorisms of Humayun Azad (Translation, 2017). In February 2017, he was a poet-in- residence at the Anuvad Arts Festival, India, and his poetry, translation, story and literary essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Journal of Postcolonial Writing, Poem, Light, SNReview, Reckoning, Right Hand Pointing, Cerebration, Arts & Letters, Bengal Lights, The Subterranean, Chaos, and elsewhere. His work has been anthologized in a number of books, including The Book of Dhaka: A City in Short Fiction. He is a PhD candidate in the Department of English, Assam University, India, and teaches English at Shahjalal University of Science & Technology, Sylhet, Bangladesh.