Ant Planet
by James Grinwis

Social insects hold the ecological center; solitary insects occupy the periphery.
—Holldobler and Wilson, from The Leafcutter Ants: Civilization by Instinct

  1. A myrmecologist
  2. is a scientist who studies ants.
  3. Attine is a word used to describe ants.
  4. Macrotermite is something else.
  2.      *
  1. There is a giant ant in the center of the universe.
  2. Her legs are elongated Madonnas.
  3. Her head is an archipelago.
  4. Her feces becomes the births of stars.
  5. What?
  2.      *
  1. My name is James.
  2. To be on the periphery is
  3. not like retreating, it is discovering something
  4. else. Like how to know God
  5. or at least touch that place a little.
  2.      *
  1. My wife says the insides of my pupils
  2. are two pulsating ants.
  3. They are squirming around in there,
  4. making the perceptions
  5. and the little stars that bleed into my brain,
  6. the miniature deaths of stars in there,
  7. gaps, spots.
  2.      *
  1. Ants are like roots that have grown legs
  2. and detached. They are the roots
  3. of the earth that have learned to walk.
  4. They are the certain skin cells of God.
  5. Beads of cooled-off lava.
  6. The brains of micro-computers running around,
  7. the electricities of them
  8. sprouting these tiny brains
  9. that tick with the leaves and the dirt and the junk and the magma.
  2.      *
  1. The world is lovely and hideous.
  2. The ants lift it up.
  3. What we learn from the ants lifts it up.
  4. A lone boy made a tiny leash for an ant.
  5. You cannot put a leash on an ant.
  6. But a thousand ants can make a leash for a boy.
  7. Unless he crushes them all with his fingers.
  2.      *
  1. You can meditate facing a stone.
  2. You can meditate facing an ant.
  3. An ant on top of a stone,
  4. his invisible chirping, the sound the mandibles
  5. make when they are trying to cut through a stone.
  2.      *
  1. There is a stone in my chest cavity.
  2. It does not sing, it does not move.
  3. The ants do not stop moving.
  4. Forever about their business,
  5. no room for things like this.
  2.      *
  1. If I was an ant I would carry a large hammer.
  2. All day there would be drums in my brain.
  3. I would eat giants, and spit their bones
  4. onto the head of my dead brother.
  2.      *
  1. The dog is licking his paws for ants.
  2. I told my wife I was an ant.
  3. She was not surprised by this
  4. because often I say things.
  5. Some people may throw things upon you.
  6. Somebody stuck his tongue out over a campfire
  7. and it was like the tongue was as gigantic
  8. as an angel. I wanted to rip it out of his face socket.
  9. I loved her, I loved my wife.
  2.      *
  1. There are these living beings, these things
  2. named ants.
Packingtown Review – Vol.10, Spring 2018

James Grinwis is the author of The City From Nome (National Poetry Review Press) and Exhibit of Forking Paths (Coffee House). His poems have appeared recently or coming soon in Hotel Amerika, Poetry Northwest, Bennington Review, Arcturus, Rogue Embryo, and Willow Springs. A founding editor of Bateau Press, he lives in Greenfield, MA. James was a contributor to Volume 1 of Packington Review.

  1. Matt McBride
    from "The Mourners Forget Which Funeral They Are At"poetry