Keith Montesano

Nights they blackened brick walls
            like paint or tar, oil
smeared with rainbows from heat.
            It wasn't their skin,
but their blood. Quick packs at dusk:
            consuming every mosquito.
Disoriented, dark and sputtering,
            fists of balled paper and minor
catastrophe: bumping light bulbs,
            breaking lamps, flitting
into our hair. What we knew was
            barricade and protection.
Was nothing. We wondered about
            the rest: hiding in crawlspaces,
escaping through shotgun hallways,
            swinging broom handles
like Middle Age maces, aiming
            rackets and gripped buckets
in duress. What did we do? We all
            asked ourselves. Helpless:
What happened to our homes? But they
            weren't biting. They
only wanted a way out, an exit
            we hadn't planned for.
Open windows didn't pull them
            toward sky. With nothing
to eat they soared and crashed.
            But some flew out—
plummeting wingless to sidewalks
            as we ducked and covered
with blankets and tablecloths.
            Hours like weeks
we waited. Then the falling: each pop
            a muffled gun shot,
writhing only for minutes.
            Who punished us? Someone
whispered: This is the way it must be.