Bed Bugs & Boneless


When I was a child, my father would read me books like “Green Eggs and Ham” or “The Giving Tree”, kiss me goodnight and then say, “Don’t let the bed bugs bite.” These bed mites were something I equated to Pandora’s box. Unseen and mythical, a lesson not to unlock what is clearly meant to remain closed, or to wash sheets and skin regularly or else invisible parasites will ravage the flesh.


Dear Bed Bugs,

It was around the time of January or Winter’s midsection, when I sat in my girlfriend’s apartment in Boulder, Colorado and saw you for the first time. Her and I sat beside each other, reading from Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer, when you jumped out like a singular surprise party, but it was neither of our birthdays and there was absolutely no cake nor presents.

Her fast fingers caught you and shuddered at the thought of what you were. You had a red tinge, as though we were engaged in some form of flirtatious banter and your entire body was blushing. She grabbed a clear ziplock bag and placed you in it. Then, we went online, hoping we were wrong about your category.

We had a hunch. About a week earlier, her neighbor called Ron or Greg asked if she had noticed any bugs in her place. As she shook her head, I took in the sight of his arms, like the beginning stages of connect the dots: tiny red spots on white, white arms.

It seems there was an infiltration of bed bugs in her building, causing her to take an immediate detour from solo studio living to cohabitation with me in my tiny 500 square foot apartment.

We threw away her mattress, checked all her books, gathered sheets and clothes into a sealed plastic bag, left outside until we could wash everything under hot, hot water.

At that time, there were few products on the market to free us, so we researched all the ways to escape their infiltration. They were like my third girlfriend: unbearably resilient and could go without eating for days (though bed bugs could starve for up to 300).



Bed Bug, a derivative of Cimex lectularius, playing hide-n-go seek with humans’ blood, living inside mattresses or nooks of beds. Unwanted intruders insistent on being bedmates with their food. Often nocturnal, extremely sly.



Let’s take a detour from the trauma of their existence and talk about their sex lives, which is far more interesting, and a distraction from the fact that they use their mouths to saw through skin, in addition to their historical lineage dating back to ancient Greece as early as 400 BC!

How they mate is through traumatic insemination, which, oddly, is what I referenced my brief experimentation with sexuality, upon becoming a heterosexual.

The male punctures the female’s abdomen with his syringe-like penis and ejaculates inside her. After doing insignificant research, I saw no courting rituals, hand-holding, Netflix-watching while eating a home-cooked dinner, noteworthy listening skills insisting that kissing and above-the-shirt touching is enough. It seems male bed bugs just barge right in and their marathon sperm inseminates upon reaching their ovaries.

Good news is, the women get a break every so often because there are gay bed bugs too, as the males will impale other males’ abdomens as well.

But during the time of their invasion, it was difficult to see them as sexual beings. Every part of me itched at all times, mostly phantom itches, derived from the fear of my blood being stolen.

We later moved into a larger apartment, but I never forgot about them: silent predators of skin.


Bed bugs, noun, a bloodsucking bug which is a parasite of birds and mammals. But let’s take a detour from that restriction of speech and use them as an adjective.

  • My twenties were bed-bugged, a series of days where I felt myself getting sucked dry of life, energy, imagination, and desire.

Or how about as a verb?

  • X bed-bugged my heart, deflating it of pumped blood, leaving me lifeless and forever weary of ever being loved again.

Future band names:

  • Bed Bugs & Boneless LIVE at the Mercury Lounge
  • Bed Bug Boner   LIVE and acoustic showing at The Bottom Line

And my as-yet-unpublished memoir:

  • New Jersey & Bed Bugs, or Lifetime of Trauma off Exit 128


When I think about all the detours in my life, it is difficult not to think about bed bugs. Sometimes I wonder if maybe we should be using them as an alternative to the reality television show “Hoarders”, where strangers infiltrate/shame humans who have a difficult time letting things go. Maybe we just need to set off a smattering of these persistent parasitic insects through the vents. Then, people will be forced to let go of things in order to cleanse their home.

A detour from avoidance.

A detour from the cost of an over-priced house cleaning.

A reason to replace bed mattress, with stains of thirteen ex-lovers, and your brief stint as a bed-wetter and all those embarrassing yet ironically artful menstruation stains.

I want to believe that the pests which exist, flapping their wings or mouths beside us can have purpose beyond skin rashes, psychological stress and the inevitable fear of the world ending.

Of course, there are always those exceptions, the nuisances that just have no redeeming quality, which have no detour to bypass: mosquitoes, gentrification and of course, Donald J. Trump.

on relocating

What is it to move? We need no suitcases nor giant truck full of our belongings to engage in this verb.

To move is to extend body into another place.

To move is to take up space.

To move is to spread language like slow-churned butter onto walls and over potholes and between bricks on buildings.

To move is to understand where you began and where you have lead yourself.

Recently, I have relocated. Not to a faraway land, but a different part of a familiar borough. With ceilings far longer than arms’ reach and backyard and sun drenched walls. With built-in bookcases by fairy-tale landlord. With smells of poetry and granola wafting within each room.

As I packed in preparation for this new space, I found myself touching everything I own and asking why it still exists. In the land of New York where closets are deemed as “an extra bedroom” and square footage is comparable to some people’s weights, it can be difficult to hold onto things. So, I created piles: to keep, to give away, to leave behind.

I come from a long lineage of “hoarders”. But please do not be mistaken. We are of a people not fit for television reality show; instead, we hoard memories. And the dust that gathers on recollections can be fierce and overpowering.

Just yesterday, my too-good-to-be-true-but-he-is landlord spoke this advice: Sometimes it’s important to just let go of things. Ask yourself if you are ‘in need of it’ or if ‘it defines you’. And what that even means. In the end, sometimes it’s best to just photograph the ‘memory’. Because even if you throw ‘it’ away, the memory still exists. No garbage can can take that away.


I have forgotten all of my things. There are photographs and the rocks collected from campsites and mountains, beaches and gardens. There is my mattress standing like a cushioned soldier, ready to finally lay down again. It is wrapped up in protective gear to combat the bed bugs and Brooklyn mold. I forgot all about that wind chime, made from dog bone and twist of fingers. I missed that red-stained plank of wood, which balanced against boxes and got called desk. I’ll need to fold all those buttons and pockets attached to shirts and slacks. Do I really need all these papers and I will need another bookshelf to house all these spines. Here is the kitchen and there are the sinks. There is a painter here and maybe she will teach me her language. Over there is a music maker and I dream about nights where we can speak in the dialect of keys and chords. There are windows and here on this porch, I can uke. That fireplace no longer works, but we can balance art and an alter on its shelf. These walls are clean and shaded with a hue of welcome. You can call that bathtub. Call this communal table where meals may be shared and poems may gather. I haven’t had a couch in years and you can sleep here. I have forgotten all about my wok, given to me by a wonderful human in Connecticut and my spices, kept sacred in red pot. I didn’t realize I had all that brown rice and how about I dedicate this evening to alphabetizing my poetry books and separating genres of thought. I forgot home could feel this way. I forgot about that welcome mat, originally purchased for performance. But I can wipe my feet on this grass, synthetic but green. And I can call this home shared and safe and warm and Brooklyn.

what happens to you.

Dear Kazim,

As you walk through this day as though it were an infinite hallway gathering wisdom from its length, I travel beneath the plaster of earth. Underground, I contemplate how hungry I am for home. An old man once asked me: where is the place I call home? 

In that moment, I was sitting with my knees together, surrounded by other writers in a classroom with no windows. Everyone else’s answers could have been found on a map. I could not help to say: My bodyMy body is my home. 

But even as I spoke this, I knew it not to be true. I was still searching for my coordinates. My own body’s map was water-logged and torn. It was faded and almost unrecognizable as a means for being found or locating an elsewhere. However, I spoke this as my answer because it was my hope to feel home in this construction site.

Kazim, I am moving again. Change of address; new route; another attempt at peace. This residence I leave now is cracked like sharp confetti hitting  me into bruises and tears. I may need to lock all these boxes and things up into a rented square with no windows as I roam. I need to air out this body until I understand it as whole.

The moon last night pushed through a curtain of clouds and called out to me. REMAIN!

I breathed in its romantic shadows and fierce eye contact. This lover changes shapes each night, but it never tells me to go away. The moon flashes me through this darkness as I begin my walk toward elsewhere.

Kazim, you wrote: the day is a hallway I am/ walking through

I respond: this Brooklyn is a fist challenging / my breath control 


sometimes you have to lie to tell the truth

I am moving.

I never really owned any traditional luggage: matching bags with wheels and retractable handles. It’s always been backpacks and garbage bags.

Perhaps I will just gather up enough books to keep me occupied until I can replace them, a toothbrush, my notebook, black ink extra fine pilot pen, an extra change of clothes and a map.

Just me and my bike and an open rode where schedules and student loan hauntings are past tense.

I will collect community at each state line. Queers who look beyond my spotty gender. Poets who want to write with me. Strangers who will drink a pint of beer beside me and reveal the unabridged version of their lives thus far.

There is no rent on the open rode. Just highway signs and fields of grass where I can carefully lay my bike (Heleanore Herman II) and sleep beneath the aroma of stars.

The complication of love and its demands and my inability to commit will be dust. Thoughts will move from fragment into complex sentences due to lack of interruption and complete awareness of unplugged surroundings.

No cellular phone.

No internet.

No television programs.

No social media outbursts.

Just air…the wild beasts hidden in trees…and the ones napping on porches.

* * *

I may miss New York, and the 8 million people clustered inside of it.

I may miss my Saturday morning Farmer’s market at Grand Army Plaza, where I purchase dinosaur kale, carrots, beets, tomatoes, peaches, apples, cabbage, yams and a morning treat of blueberry or strawberry rhubarb muffin. I may miss that patch of shade I tend to lay in where I rest my bundle of New York Times. I may miss the nap I often spontaneously take after the sun lures me to sleep.

I may miss the New York Times and my weekend subscription.

I may miss all those poetry readings and the brilliant minds I’ve met off stages, gathering at various cafes, theatres, bars.

I may miss this home in Crown Heights where I have memorized my bike routes, the pattern of scents wafting, the pigeons with barbecue sauce dripping from beaks.

I may miss the sunrise here.

* * *

Sometimes, you have to lie to tell the truth.

I am afraid to remain because what if I really can’t make it.

What if there is no job for me.

What if (my) community is just a shadow blurred from lack of commitment.

What if New York doesn’t even notice I’ve gone……………..