© Christopher Raine

Looking down

on ants

wearing khaki shorts

and T-shirts,


their hides

like cattle;

some wore Ray-Bans ®, 

others Gucci ®, 

some rode bikes,

others cars,

some slept in parkades.

Karl watched

a few of them

in a cluster,

gathering around

the parasol

of a hotdog stand

like the pallbearers

of a dead moth.


The wind was heavy,

the sky blue, 

up here,

the sun bright

on Olympus.


“There are too many

 ants below,

chewing roots,

drying out

the soil.

Their mounds, 

bulbous and sick, 

like the bubonic plague,


leaving behind

only dust;

a society

of the hive mind.”


From his perch, 

he watched them

for a while,


at his antenna

with hooked claws,

cleaning waste

particulates from

his angular-bulbous head,


his insignificant plight.

 He never wanted

to be a worker

or a soldier,

for that matter,

seeing the former

in warehouses,

pissing in bottles,

living by

the penalty of time.

He saw the latter,


in severed chunks,

chitinous limbs

cracked like lobsters

from a cheap

restaurant franchise.


Karl was fortunate.

He saw a few queens

 in his day

and admired

hourglass figures:

from metasoma thorax,

slender petiole,

to metasoma abdomen

like a whalebone

fetish corset.

His mandibles


“Funny how

our wings fall off

after mating.”


When it came time

to strike out

on his own,

he took flight

with a few

of the lads

and winged damsels. 

Knowing death

awaited them

after mating,

he played the role

with clever subterfuge,

spreading his wings,

knowing his destiny,

and choosing defiance,

he charted

a different path

to this place.


His veined,

cellophane wings

glistening and long,

virginal and pure,

he watched them

with compound eyes. 

On life and death,

he made

meticulous notes,

and when he was done, 

he scanned the sky

for the dark angel

of night’s feathers.


No longer a slave

to crippling society,

Karl heard

the song and chirps

of angels,

marvelling at Saint Peter’s

compelling horn,

twitching in anticipation,

choosing between life

and death

on his own terms,

he flutters toward

the Valkyrie silhouette

in an epiphany

of prayer. 

It came for him,


and devouring

with snapping


he became

a part of something

greater now.