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PCT Magazine | November 30, 2012

From Infestation to Inspiration

Homeowner Joan Gerstein battled a rodent infestation for months before she called a professional to help her handle the problem. The ordeal inspired four poems.

Joan Gerstein, of Oceanside, Calif., has been writing poetry since she was a child. A retired school teacher, Gerstein has been published in a number of local periodicals throughout San Diego County, and writes when inspiration strikes.

Recently, inspiration came in the form of a very frustrating rodent infestation. “I went on vacation for two weeks last fall, and in my absence, mice set up residence in my home,” Gerstein said. “I tried everything for seven months and finally called an exterminator. He finished things off, and I am mice free. The poems were the only fun thing that came out of this awful problem.”


What follows are four poems Gerstein penned as a result of her unwelcome house guests:

Poems by Joan Gerstein


“Home Invasion”

Little black specks were easy to ignore
when first seen on the counter and the floor.
But as they multiplied, I had to surmise
nature had gifted me mice as a prize
For my slovenly housekeeping.

I soon discovered they were everywhere:
under the sink, in a drawer, on a chair.
For penance I scrubbed and scoured my house
Then went about to catch each evil mouse
with language suitable for bleeping.

In suspicious corners I lodged the traps.
My hungry rodents needed no roadmaps
to a counter where I placed some peaches.
I’d show the vermin what stealing teaches:
death when they do their nocturnal creeping.

In the morning I found two little mice
stuck to my rodent-catching device.
In horror I saw what my hands had done.
Removing these animals was no fun.
It actually set my eyes to weeping.

I had to leave those remaining mice free,
keep them in one location I could see.
So near their hole I will carefully set
tasty treats they can easily get,
my belated offering of peacekeeping.


“More Than One in My House”

It doesn’t work — they just want more and more,
but I’m not a rodent convenience store.
They taste my veggies, nibble the fruit.
My previous peace treaty is now moot.

The mice gnaw holes in the dog food bags.
I clean up their poop with vacuum and rags.
But by next morn’ there’s dozens more
in drawers, on counters, especially the floor.

They’ve supped on pasta, grains and brown rice.
No more will I be tolerant or nice.
Throughout the kitchen I’ve set multiple traps.
They’ll get their payback when we take our naps.

Death! I declare war on the vermin today.
I’ve tried to be kind yet there’s no other way.
They’ll no longer use my house for their forage.
It’s me, not the mice, who pays the mortgage.


“Rodent Redux”
I’m on the warpath with weapons I wield,
so my halcyon home’s a killing field.

I’ve destroyed forty-eight little creatures
with snake-like tails and ugly features.

A little mouse wife and her little mouse man
bred every three weeks to produce a clan

of mice of every shape and size,
with gray-brown fur and beady eyes.

Each time I destroy perhaps two or three,
for days no new black poops do I see.

I pray they are all truly deceased
until I see evidence of a new beast

that has taken chunks from a peach, a plum,
a ripe tomato, even a dog food crumb.

Again I set out multiple traps
to kill the mice and then play taps.

Finally my house feels peaceful and calm,
the mice have all gone to the great beyond.

I must now enjoy the time where I dwell
because when I die I’ll burn in hell.


“Mice, The Final Chapter”

In every closet and all the drawers,
on multiple shelves and corners of floors,
I placed different kinds of rodent traps:
pads of sticky goo and the one that snaps
when the creatures reach for peanut butter.
I put poison in my pantry clutter,
behind the toilet where I found mouse poop,
under the kitchen sink in a group.
I planted snares of every device
and week after week I killed many mice.

For each dozen that met their demise
offspring of ten or twenty would arise
to establish residence in my house
and thwart attempts to kill every louse.
After eight months I admit defeat.
I can’t make my home hygienic and neat.
Since they won’t leave and neither will I,
there’s only one thing left I can try —
today I’ll call an exterminator.
Let someone else be the decimator.

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