The Week in a Poem: “Hundreds of cockroaches drowned today.”

By Musa Okwonga

UK-based poet, journalist, and musician


It was just as well they died at sea – no-one holds funerals for beetles,

this way there’ll be less of a mess.

In the old days, we used to buy the cockroaches,

Bring them over the oceans in slightly safer ships,

And we’d have them work in our fields,

Snipping cotton for us as the sun seared their shells.

Here’s a secret; the cockroaches have never swum too well.

Back then, we’d throw the sick ones over the side

but now money drowns them,

And we smirk as their brown lungs fill with salt and silt,

We sing as they sink.


Almost 40 people drowned and 75 were rescued after a boat carrying migrants to Greece sank off Turkey’s western coast last Saturday, according to local officials and the Turkish Dogan news agency.



“Hundreds Of Cockroaches Drowned Today: Musa Okwonga’s Poem Reflects On The Migrant Drownings.” Okayafrica Hundreds Of Cockroaches Drowned Today Musa Okwongas Poem Reflects On The Migrant Drownings Comments. N.p., 22 Apr. 2015. Web. 30 Jan. 2016.

“Almost 40 Dead after Migrant Boat Sinks off Turkey.” Reuters UK. N.p., 30 Jan. 2016. Web. 30 Jan. 2016.


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