Formicid Form: Falling in the Presence of Ants

The Daily Ant maintains “Formicid Form”, a Sunday ant poetry series. When possible, our Verse Correspondant, Natalia Piland, provides a short commentary at the end of each poem. Enjoy!

Falling in the Presence of Ants (1982)

By Gary Soto

We live to some purpose, daughter.
Across the park, among
The trees that give the eye
Something to do, let’s spread
A blanket on the ground
And examine the ants, loose
Thread to an old coat
They’re more human than we are.
They live for the female,
Raise their hurt, and fall earthward
For their small cause. And
Us? We live for our bellies,
The big O of our mouths.
Give me, give me, they say,
And many people, whole countries,
May go under because we desire TV
And chilled drinks, clothes
That hang well on our bodies—
Desire sofas and angles lamps,
Hair the sea may envy
On a slow day.
It is small to sweep
Ants into a frenzy, blow
Chemicals into their eyes—
Those austere marchers who will lift
Their heads to rumor—seed,
Wafer of leaf, dropped apple—
And start off, over this
And that, between sloppy feet
And staggered chairs, for no other
Purpose than that it might be good.

Verse Correspondant Natalia Piland writes: “Don’t ever forget: it might be good.”

Gary Soto