Umbrella’s lighter offshoot



by Larry Gaffney

Bacteria live everywhere,
Unseen, yet omnipresent.
They pullulate in unwashed hair,
In tepid milk and spoiled pheasant.

Bacteria are stowaways
On roaches and bluebottle flies.
They feast like kings on donut glaze;
They love the wetlands of your eyes.

On everything you touch—a clock,
A spoon, a doorknob—they’re at home.
They form societies on socks,
Build thriving nations on a comb.

They’re known to us as Staphylococcus,
Rods, E. Coli, spirochetes.
Their private lives would truly shock us:
They honeymoon on toilet seats.


Larry Gaffney
 is a professor of English at Lock Haven University. He has had stories and poems in Opium Magazine, Rosebud, Yankee Pot Roast, Light Quarterly, Riverwind, and elsewhere. His first novel, One Good Year, will be published in March 2007 by Level 4 Press.