These carpenter ants
were living in a charred hole
way high in a snag.
They must have had a long hike
to the ground to get their food.
The first disturbance,
chainsaw versus madrone snag,
a sudden slow crash.
The hole still seemed a good place
to live till I cut through it.
Big black ants running
with grublike baby sisters
in their careful jaws.
Blows from the maul on the wedge
knock them to the dead leaf ground.
Soon they’re out of sight,
a vanishing tragedy.
What will they do now?
You can’t win the election
if you describe your real plans,
so you try ensnaring voters
in a spiderweb of lies.
Any question can be answered
with talking points, and if you say
Two plus Two is Five often enough,
it’s probably at least four and a half.
But if it really is morning
in your exceptional America,
then it’s time we all woke up
from your American dream.
For seventeen years, my fence was fine.
A garden filled with tasty flowers
went unmolested by deer.
But last week,
the commotion at my cat Neil’s bowl
was not a family of tumbling raccoons,
but two full-sized dogs,
one black, one black with white spots.
How’d they get in?
I chased them off,
trying to see how they left the garden,
somewhere on the Fernwash side, but—
The next day was worse.
A young buck with nubbins on his head
was in the garden.
He took his time leaving despite my protest,
pausing to nibble a swordfern.
Hey, you. Get out.
It was what I expected.
The chicken wire fencing a little rusty,
easily stretched up off the ground,
redwood stakes loose or pulled out.
I bought some rebar to reinforce the bottom
and replace the stakes.
Some struggle for me,
on steep ground with huckleberry brush.
But Neil helped.
He followed me inside the fence
while I worked outside,
rubbing his head on the fencing
everywhere there was any kind of gap,
showing me what I had to fix.
Yeah, that cat understood what I was doing,
and was happy to help me secure the yard.
Under the hot sun
I keep the sprinkler flowing.
Under the cold rain
I keep the woodstove burning.
I can’t say very much
before saying something
that reminds her of someone
and then she’ll give me
a biography of that person,
another of his or her mate,
the mate’s boyfriend or mistress,
the substance-abusing demise
of the oldest or youngest
daughter or son, and I’m lost
in a labyrinth of lives lived poorly.
Am I supposed to learn something
from hearing these disasters?
I already know better.
I have no need to drink
decades of distilled gossip.
Crows on a freeway,
pecking at some roadkill meat,
copyright © 2012 Carl Miller