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An ant’s perspective

“The ground is cavernous with the burrows of lizards and crawling forms, with centipedes and fierce formicidae.”

Carmen Ariza by Charles Francis Stocking


Ants, who dream that Zeus had made them Myrmidons,

who dream of rageful Achill and honors gone.

Ants, a mob, a mass of them,

each no greater than grain of salt… 

From my Olympian height

I see them in flagstone crevices

leading to Upaya Zendo.

Stepping over them, around them  

as best I can, 

from my Olympian height,

there seems no focal point for them,

only frantic aimlessness,

movement in all directions,

frenzied, panicked riot, 

as if filmed at super high velocity

from my Olympian height,

as if in city forewarned of some impending doom.

Other ants, magnitude of rice, 

segmented body, six spindly legs

attached to thorax,

claw at end of leg. 

Head of jaws, and many lensed eyes. 

Antennae that smell, touch, taste, and hear.

Those spindly legs—fitted with knees.

I wager, and I wonder if there might not be a God at last. 

I mean, come on, tiny legs and tiny knees? ? ?

Bathed in early morning sunlight, 

I observe them on concrete slabs of sidewalk

leading to my house.

They scurry to and fro—

quick, jerky ambulations. 

From my Olympian height, 

I see the tiny creatures dart and turn, 

lit by early morning sunlight

casting shallow, irrational tiny shadows,

now in front, 

then on right, then on left, 

then gone abruptly as they stop, aligned with sunlight rays? 

Are they confused, bamboozled   

as they traverse de Chirico empty circuits?  

(in reality only concrete slabs of sidewalk leading to my house

— flat, vast ambits— infinite as painted by de Chirico…)

To them, surreal expanses of portentous silence, 

creating enigmatic visual poetry—to them…


“Ants are eusocial insects of the family Formicidae and, along with the related wasps and bees, belong to the orderHymenoptera. Ants evolved from wasp-like ancestors in the Cretaceous period, about 140 million years ago, and diversified after the rise of flowering plants. More than 12,500 of an estimated total of 22,000 species have been classified. They are easily identified by their elbowed antennaeand the distinctive node-like structure that forms their slender waists.

“Ants form colonies that range in size from a few dozen predatory individuals living in small natural cavities to highly organised colonies that may occupy large territories and consist of millions of individuals. Larger colonies consist of various castes of sterile, wingless females, most of which are workers (ergates), as well as soldiers (dinergates) and other specialised groups. Nearly all ant colonies also have some fertile males called “drones” (aner) and one or more fertile females called “queens” (gynes). The colonies are described as superorganisms because the ants appear to operate as a unified entity, collectively working together to support the colony.

“Ants have colonised almost every landmass on Earth. The only places lacking indigenous ants are Antarctica and a few remote or inhospitable islands. Ants thrive in most ecosystems and may form 15–25% of the terrestrial animal biomass.” SOURCE: Ant, Wikipedia

Eusociality (from Greek εὖ eu “good” and social), the highest level of organization of animal sociality, is defined by the following characteristics: cooperative brood care (including care of offspring from other individuals), overlapping generations within a colony of adults, and a division of labor into reproductive and non-reproductive groups. The division of labor creates specialized behavioral groups within an animal society which are sometimes called castes. Eusociality is distinguished from all other social systems because individuals of at least one caste usually lose the ability to perform at least one behavior characteristic of individuals in another caste.” SOURCE: Eusociality, Wikipedia


First published in My View, Santa Fe New Mexican, March 10 2019

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