Mosquito Suburbia

Summer breeds larvae
And we’re killing them with Windex.

Father said our house has a mosquito problem.
But I say they’re family; they share our blood.
We’ve exchanged our arteries since mid-June
for the brief month-long lives of insects.

We’re back in a different Genesis:
one where human flesh becomes sweeter
than fruit, where mosquitoes learn temptation
from our bruises—civilization and sin.

But here we are circling suburbia,
car engines in full-force, windshields
tearing away at exoskeletons. We hold
onto fly swatters, slamming bodies against
drywall and wiping away the blood
using toilet paper.

Our bloodline becomes the fuel to the hybrid
between sludge and dust. We drag them along
using the rubber soles of our shoes through
their nursing room. We exchange bruise
for bruise. I’m guilty of doing the same.

This poem won the November 2023 Poetry Prize! 

Poetry Editor Micheline Maylor writes about "Mosquito Suburbia" by Richard Su:

Mosquito Suburbia is a surprisingly philosophical poem contemplating the nature of humanity and cruelty. The poem defies any expectation of such complexities as it starts in a common image of a family home, a family discussion, with a common problem of regular old summer bugs. Yet, the poet’s metaphors build on how and what we share as different species, and how we are to one another in kindness and compassion. The poet further condemns himself as a guilty party, guilty of the worst of our very human nature in the last line with a surprising Volta. Without one bit of preaching, or announcing, the message is sophisticated and wise.  

A young man in a city with headphones around his neck looks directly at the camera

Richard Su

Grade: 10 / Sec. IV
Fraser Heights Secondary School
Surrey, BC

I wrote this poem in mid-July when the heat waves scorched through Vancouver along with swarms of mosquitoes. When I felt them bite me, I would instinctively wipe myself down leading a blood trail painted upon my arm. Every streak of blood I would paint upon myself gave me a subtle feeling of guilt.

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