• Lammergeier Staff

Study of an Ant on Stilts | Caleb Jay Howard


How kind that fire ants signal their anger

with red. Brick bodies, scavenged clay,

inflamed crests of skin. Needle-nosed.

Three-part bodies bookended with thorns.

How we respond with borax, boot heels, 

magnifying glasses to pleat a fold of sun.

How we watch them colonize, 

piling grains of dirt by the million,

and topple them with a footstep.

How we flatten them daily, 

our personal Gomorrah, and spit red 

when they return in the summer.

How they return, grain after grain,

crumb-nosed, red as a sunset.

I keep expecting the world to end

with camera-shaking violence. A flash

staining my apartment window blood-orange:

an eruption, explosion, mutual launching. 

A blip on a phone before the earth

uproots and something is lost.

Some alien archaeologist will claim

they loved too much

Or they built their world in the palm

of a monster. They’ll scour our phones’

data chips, millions of digital 

Rosetta Stones for desperate I love you’s.

They’ll study the twisted metals spiraling

from potted foundations like stems,

identifying hospitals by their deposits of helium,

the bars and churches by skeletons. 

They’ll construct our timeline to the impact event,

down to each ant bed kicked, each three-headed 

composite huddled around a half-standing hearth,

to the millisecond before 

a sudden and incontrovertible bang

too late for us to hear.





In lieu of an author bio, this author has requested that Lammergeier redirect readers' attention to the Atlanta Solidarity Fund.

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