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The Ants

by Gary Ligi

1.
It comes together now: the tongues on doorknobs, knives,
The families bundled frozen to the eyes before
The late night news, the living rooms of those
Who weren’t there, who didn’t hear
The promise of relief abandoned halfway back
To Butte while death was everywhere,
Distraction, wait, eleven second’s rest,
The cold an occupation old as war, immense enough
To drive the water from the ground
Like fur on a cat’s back, but if anything’s
Afraid it’s all she wrote it isn’t me.

2.
And that’s a clipping, thirteen typeset inches cut
In Arkansas as George’s midway through
The second Bud, a half a dozen Comp.
Lit. majors kicking Yeats around
The jukebox booth, Chicago hiding in
A Wurlitzer and eating quarters, me, my mind
On incandescent candles sending waves of light
Like soldier ants up the unshaven legs
Beside me.

3.
                          Legs without a name, without a face,
No body, legs, just legs. They asked me what
I thought was good enough to save. I stuffed a clipping in
My pocket, bought a six-pack, took the legs
Away from the ants and into the snow
To their place where we drank the beer
And fucked. Before I left I knew
The question for my students on the next day’s quiz.

4.
I couldn’t say this then, but now the trees
are full of birds and what’s inside me fails to match.
The cold’s an occupation old as war,
Immense enough

 

Gary Ligi has published poems in many magazines, including Counter/Measures and Intro. (Spring 1975)


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