“Ants” by Lowell Jaeger

“Peace,” image courtesy of Dariusz Klimczak

Ants do what ants do: hive
in creases and cracks, build
villages in my garden wall, and frenzy
through daily routine in what looks to me
as rushing to and fro for no
discernible cause—from where I stand,
at least, just now alert
to this nation’s invasion into my own
sovereign soils.
A bugle
wails its alarm, calling me to march
to the garden shed, survey the stores
—powders, sprays, bombs—
arm myself against this foreign assault.

In the blast of afternoon heat, the ants
zigzag from chore to chore, absorbed
in each career, lofting bits of leaf and bark,
grains of sand.  The queen’s orders relayed—we think—
in chemical codes of one’s antennae wiped
across another’s.  Do they suspect me?
Do they see me?  How can they comprehend
the impending doom
raining down
from my shaker of Bug-B-Gone,
guaranteed to rid any garden and lawn
of creatures unwanted.  The napalm
burns into their polished uniform hides.
Some run, some collapse, some writhe.
I bulldoze their bunker with my shoe,
over-ending stones beneath which lie

nurseries of the unborn, a next generation
assigned to care and feed the future hive, till
my shadow looms overhead,
and I’ve put an end to all of that.  Which is natural,
isn’t it?  Ants do what ants do.
My species too.



Lowell Jaeger founded Many Voices Press and compiled Poems Across the Big Sky, an anthology of Montana poets, and New Poets of the American West. His third collection of poems, Suddenly Out of a Long Sleep (Arctos Press) was published in 2009 and was a finalist for the Paterson Award. His fourth collection, WE, (Main Street Rag) was published in 2010. He received fellowships from the NEA and the Montana Arts Council and won the Grolier Poetry Peace Prize. Jaeger was awarded the Montana Governor’s Humanities Award for his work in promoting thoughtful civic discourse.

Read an interview with Lowell here.

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