Monday, June 25, 2007


Have you bent low to see
ants labor in their daily toil
while we live and work and play with guns?

Their industry is joy.
Each to the whole, they work as one,
particular and necessary.

Ask: is every action
essential, nothing secondary,
as they tunnel through the soil?


As they tunnel through the soil,
essential, nothing secondary -
ask: is every action

particular and necessary?
Each to the whole, they work as one,
their industry is joy.

While we live and work and play with guns,
ants labor in their daily toil.
Have you bent low to see?

This poem was inspired by Natasha Trethewey's incredible Myth, from Native Guard. I was fascinated with the way the lines inverted themselves in the second half of the poem, changing their meaning - like walking a labyrinth. Jessica at 9 to 5 Poet did the same thing with Through the Looking Glass, and I knew I had to try my hand as well. I changed the rhyme scheme to be a little more subtle, and don't think I achieved the same inversion of meaning that Trethewey accomplished... but it is still one of my favorite poems I have written. I'm pleased with it.


Jessica said...

I'll leave more comments later -- but great job! This is fantastic. :)

Jessica said...

Okay -- now I'm not at work, so I can actually respond in detail. I love how the opening line because such a great single question at the end -- it's a great flip.

I like this also because it is so specific. You include such interesting details, that shift in perspective when read in reverse. And you added a rhyme, which I couldn't even attempt. Kudos!

I hope you don't mind, but I linked to your poem on my blog. :)

Deb said...

This is a wonderful poem. I think the folded lines work incredibly well. I like the imagery of the ants, the inclusion of a war motif--guns--and ther comparison to joy (quite suprising), and how the reader is drawn in.

Good, and good for you.

Crafty Green Poet said...

This works really well, the form is great, I like how the meaning changes in the second part. I also like how you've got so close to the ants. Ants are wonderful creatures!

paris parfait said...

Great job; I like the form. But I'm not a fan of ants. :)

Sr. Heather said...

Wow - I need to go back over this one a couple of times, but it's a lovely work in this form. Awesome!

tinamtl said...

Yes, I have. And. I have also compared them to us in my mind. Great thoughts.

Anonymous said...

I am impressed with this. I need to try this. Thanks for introducing this to us.

It works so well either way.

Anonymous said...

I read this a few days ago--found it through a link on another blog. It's really wonderful. I love that each half would work on its own as a poem, and together they show us even more. I think subject and images you've chosen are particularly strong.

I had never heard of this form before, and now I am also tempted to try... though it seems like quite a challenge!

Anonymous said...

Also, I'd really like to keep up with your blog, but I'm lazy and use bloglines... have you thought about publishing an RSS feed? Pretty please?

Tammy Brierly said...

A new form to me and I love how it works. You did an excellent job here. *clapping hands*

Anonymous said...

this poem is amazing! i love the subject and the way you have pieced the whole topic together. not only is it inspiring and a delight to read, it makes me pause to consider this myelf.


Rob Kistner said...

Very cool Sasha!

I am not usually enamored with writing poems of preconceived structure -- but this is way cool... I will have to try one myself.

Jim Brock said...

I had to reread my copy of Native Guard to remind myself of Tretheway's poem. Wow! And wow about yours!

The construction here is a marvel, as you pay such close attention to the possibilities of each line, what comes before and after.

Clare said...

I LOVE this. I find it very effective and powerful -- beautiful too! Great message in it, also.

chicklegirl said...

I loved the construction of this and how the meaning changed (yet stayed the same). Very, very cool!

Joyce Ellen Davis said...

This is really great--very interesting form, and you have done so well with it! GOOD JOB!

Joyce Ellen Davis said...

A sort of CHIASMUS in form, yes?

Irene said...

I don't think I'll ever look at ants quite the same way again!

That was wonderfully composed. You're very talented. Keep writing! ;p