Paul Gadzikowski

The Return of Archy the Cockroach

Catching up with Archy

People who are familiar with the appearances of Archy the Cockroach in the Sun Dial newspaper column of Don Marquis in the early part of the twentieth century ask us why Archy is still writing with no capitalization or punctuation. A modern caps lock is easier to secure than a shift lock on a manual typewriter, they reason, and there's no need to skip punctuation to conserve a 3/4-inch author's stamina when the letter keys are so much easier to strike nowadays. We were curious about this also, so we asked Archy about it.

i have left messages with proper capitalization 
and punctuation 
on the personal computers of dozens of people in 
the past decade or two i was invariably derided 
for being a normal cockroach with no human soul working 
a scam to make myself rich and famous i was told 
that if i were clever i would mimic archy s minimalist 
typing style in order to enforce the deception i was 
practicing on them i would type pleas for them to 
publish my work and they would watch and 
laugh and go for the raid

Others have questioned that this can be the same Archy who wrote for Don Marquis sixty years ago, especially since that Archy once claimed that 63 - his own age - was the maximum age he had ever observed in any cockroach until that time. We asked him about this too, and he replied:

you must be one of these people who swore off 
the entire works of george lucas on the grounds 
that a parsec is not a measure of time it s not 
important whether i am the same archy what s 
important is whether my work is literature 
or not 
when i was human i was a pioneer of verse libre 
poetry i died and was reincarnated as a 
cockroach for my sins i have enough problems 
without having my identity questioned by a small 
frog in a big net

Before Archy could crawl off into the leftovers in a huff, we asked him about Mehitabel the Cat, the extravagant personality who was featured in much of what Archy wrote for Don Marquis.

not since the sun dial days have i 
seen mehitabel who claimed to be 
reincarnated from cleopatra 
but now that the gabor sisters 
have started to die off i am 

but that reminds me i 
know you don t care much 
for your family dog boss 
but i for one vote to 
keep her around she keeps 
the cat up on the counters 
and furniture so the 
floor is safe for me

"What about Mars, Archy?" we asked. "Mars has been proven to be a lifeless planet, but the Sun Dial material contains at least two examples of purported communication between yourself and one or more persons on Mars."

if you recall that then you will 
also recall that mars worshipped 
me as a prophet or messiah 
perceptive planet that it was 
they became so agitated at my 
literary descriptions of the 
human race from an insect s 
point of view that they 
abandoned this solar system 
entirely and in order to keep 
from being followed they 
wiped out all traces of 
themselves on mars 
with a series of nuclear
explosions one night while 
no one on earth was looking


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