Four Poems by Eliza Jerrett




Each night the biggest centipede
comes to cuddle,
fleeing her spot in the drain,
seeking the heated cave
between our sheets

sometimes I spot her
before she ascends the mattress.
I kick, and she speeds
for the towering bookcase

but I know she’s waiting,
leg fringe flapping and tasting
crouched in the dust of old paper
and things too small for human eyes

she pokes at husks
of garbage flies,
waits for my lamp to flash off
then hustles out of hiding,
along the wall, into the heap
of bodies that steams in summer heat

scuttling over elbows, under backs,
between vibrating legs, devouring
our sleepy scent,
our accidental blood.



When I poured my tea,
The steam hit a pill bug
Who lay – I thought dead –
Belly-up on the milk-white counter.

The kettle’s breath,
Harsh and hot as a human heart
Set death in reverse
I watched the mortal dance rewound
Feelers doing desperate duets
Pearl-belly flexing horribly
Spindle-feet clawing the steam heat,
Searching for purchase.



I cling to this table
like it’s a precipice
centipedes swirl
about my feet
hairy, suspicious

the wall sports one
a previous tenant smashed
with a fist or a shoulder,
a thin brown baby
blurring into the paint.

the faucet smacks
like a metronome
the fridge exhales and drools,
condensation gathered
in its heights
by a phantom heat


Dead Beat

A spider has harvested
some of your hairs
for her web:
black tendrils, arabesques.

Around our bed, insects wait
like sentries – a bug like a toad
toast-brown, flat-backed
inside-out looking, blends
with the baseboard.
Young drain-flies,
dingy wings folded demurely,
speckle the wall.
The yellow light finds
the flash in their feelers,
their tentative swipes.

You lie across the apartment,
curled on the sheet-less guest bed,
broad lips ajar,
snarling in sleep,
slim silver laptop
blaring an unseen drama.


Eliza Jerrett is a Massachusetts native and a graduate of Emerson College.