January 2009 Update


It's been years (years?!) since I've posted here. Thanks to all of you for reading the ant poems faithfully; my plan is to one day bring them all back in book form. In the meantime I've taken down some ants, left a few up, and will be back in a few (hours? days? months?) with a new project. And thanks to anyone who submitted work for the long-ago "call for insects"...I apologize I failed to ever make anything happen with that.

Some updates on what I've been doing can be found on my website, or you can also find me on Facebook.

And as for my beginnings in blogging (this blog used to be called Texture Notes), those poems will come out in the form of a book with that title, in November of 2009 - from a brand new press, Letter Machine Editions.





Huge Shadow

Caused by a very low light upon a very small ant, its elongated legs move not slower, just taller, with a weightiness akin to that loaded gun over there on that table. Beside the ant is the trigger, but only in shadow. In shadow the ant meets its lover, angles in for a kiss, passes right through her, unless, perhaps, is devouring her instead.



Homeowner's Competition

Or, evolution of the floor. That time and place where floor meant not linoleum, carpet, hardwood, or even dirt, but ants. A bad floor has roughly a 40% mortality rate, most likely due to the additional bad luck of high heels, entertainment centers, and cats. A good floor would be extremely well-organized: the uniformity and tightness of the grid can, at best, create an ant surface tension of 65 Dyne/cm2. All of which is contingent upon the floor having recruited sufficient numbers of ants to begin with. That said, the value of an ant floor depreciates in a sharp slope along the axes of time and wear, while a brand new one can be purchased only on the black market, and only by people who have been carefully screened for ant-corpse allergen sensitivity.



Sufficient Gravity 3 (The Surface Tension Challenge)

Things have evolved as far as this. Once every summer in a nondescript beach town in Southern California, a contest is held. On a smooth, very smooth surface, a puddle, very large puddle is formed. Local ants are invited to the puddle, all with the understanding that the ant who breaks the surface tension, and thus the puddle, shall be the winner of a brand new Chrysler Crossfire Limited. The task looks easy enough that it lures a few ants to jump on first, not realizing the inadequacy of their body mass until it is too late. More ants then pile on quickly, so that the judges are forced to keep a sharp lookout in order to correctly identify the ant that breaks the water surface. When the mass of ants atop the puddle starts approaching critical mass, the ants grow restless and the whole puddle quivers.

It turns out that the puddle attracts quite a bit of attention, and ants, whole colonies of ambitious ants and poor ants and lonely ants with nothing to do, seeking a little friendly jostling, hopeful ants and soon even the random passerby ants with no ambition whatsoever have joined in on the action, having been lured in by all the ongoing excitement. It is just this kind of unambitious ant who finally ends, by winning, this mad contest of jostling ant matter, and is presented with the car. At which point the ants are now returned to their senses, reminded that this game was a human invention after all, the car a human-scale car.

The winning ant is now faced with the Herculean task of gathering enough fellow ants to band together and form a massive huddle, a complex collective large enough with which to operate the car. A pair of ants nearby loiter around the butt of a not-quite extinguished cigarette, taking turns inhaling, and exhaling statements about how overrated winning is.




I leave the house for a couple of months, and upon my return find that a gang of ants and a gang of cockroaches have been having turf wars in my home. I don’t actually see any ants or cockroaches there, but I can tell by those little tiny colorful bandanas they have left behind.




for Takako Arai

I am looking for my friend who promised to meet me on this street at a time that’s right about now, except we failed to specify exactly at which part of the block we would meet, and even then it should not be a problem because I know exactly what my friend looks like and I am not seeing her at all anywhere on the block. I ask around, to the local shopkeepers, but they haven’t seen her either and I look around some more and I still don’t see her but fortunately we are in Japan and everyone has cell phones and right then she calls and says to look behind me, and I do and I still don’t see her, and she says look down, and I do and I still can’t find her, and she says she is under that pile of swarming ladybugs right there and I am horrified but she says she is having a good time and that I should come and join her and I walk away and that was the sad end of our friendship.



No Collective

for Yu Nakai

Believing themselves to be quite progressive for their species, a group of ants get together and decide to form a collective. They gather the necessary documentation, fill out all the proper information in the correct little boxes, get photos taken in appropriate size and dimension and angle, and step precisely through every single hoop required of them to become an officially recognized collective.

Their application is denied, however, on the grounds that ants are an inherently collective species, and this designation would be redundant and downright unnecessary.

One ant is so upset by this verdict that it begins to cry, thereby forging a breach in the collective emotional unity of the group. This very breach, however, makes the officer falter, reconsider for a brief moment, entertaining the possibility of a radical change of heart, but this very possibility of a change in the officer’s heart makes the ant’s tears dry up, which lands them all back at their original, inherently collective state, and that’s the end of that story.

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