A Wayward Ant

by Jordan Mazzella

(For everyone whose mind is as entropic as mine is.)

So I saw this ant crawling on my folder in the computer lab, right?

I flicked it off and the little guy fell onto the desk.

Now she’s crawling along the paper I have in front of me, pausing occasionally, as if stopping to read the genius on the page as I attempt to relate this experience of watching her march directionlessly through whole paragraphs, scrambling across margins and stopping coincidentally at periods, as if those were the juiciest morsels of the prose.

I succeed in committing to page directionless drivel; the only thing I am capable of.

I was told to write structure; structure is what everything needs, structure is what I need, direction is what I need.

The ant is crawling across the keyboard, resting on the backspace key,

making her way around the letter keys at seemingly random intervals that happen to coincide with when I deign to tap said key, like it’s playing whack-a-mole with me but

she got the rules backwards,

so I’ve got the mallet, but I’m trying to avoid her.

Now she’s crawling over the computer screen, and I begin to realize that that’s what

real

directionlessness is: it’s that ant that, for all her effort, still cannot find the colony.

It’s this thought that paralyzes me as I write;

the moment’s as cathartic as those fucking douchebag friends of mine who disappear to LA on some bullshit spring break trip and then insist that it “changed their life.”

I’m pretty sure I’d dig some Pacific pussy myself, and there are cool concerts and comedy clubs out there, and I would appreciate weather that doesn’t make my nose drip like an uncared for leaky faucet at all times, but I sincerely doubt I’d have some epiphany and come back and join the circus or something.

Even the aforementioned douchebags haven’t really changed: they came back to New York, just as expected, with some fun stories and the illusion that their lives have been irrevocably altered.

I want to meet the people who never come back;

the people who left as unlearned neophytes and became infected by the call of the vastness of the World. The people who call home anyplace they can plant two feet for a night.

Not some backpacking idiot or some recent college grad who wants to “Kerouac it” for a summer.

No, I mean the people who never come back.

They belong to the world now,

and their lives are as limitless as the cosmos, those same cosmos that they look up at wonderingly, and which look down at them judgmentally, saying to them,

“you think you’re so special because you don’t have a place to call home? You can’t call everything home, and, in fact, you are homeless-ish: you can always crash at mom’s place for X days, dad will always float you X dollars because you’re too busy

“finding yourself”

to find a fucking job, and your friends have surprisingly comfortable couches;

some of them will even share their beds with you, and all that that may or may not imply.

But fuck the stars, the stars are impotent and pompous assholes, you are a wanderer, a true vagabond.

This I continue to believe as I continue to see this ant, who will never again find her colony, explore the world laid out before her:

at present, this desk I’ve been assigned to, where I began to write this very poem, or criticism, or whatever this is; this piece held together so tenuously you could barely call it cohesive at all. How did this ant get in here?

Perhaps it was outside mere hours ago, walking up someone’s shoe, or maybe it accidentally fell from a low branch into some kid’s backpack. Maybe you had a melty lollipop in some pocket somewhere and she decided to scout the area before sending the news to her comrades that she’d found food. One chance encounter and before you know it her life is lost, here I am crawling along my folder, here she is flicking me off, here she is crawling along my notes, her screen, my brain, her ideas; I’m infesting my mind. She’s all I can think about, forsaking all else. Every thought is meaningless if it does not follow the wayward wanderings of this ant.

Then again, maybe this is what structure is:

direction.

This ant has no purpose, that becomes evident almost immediately, nor does it know where it is going or what it wants, but

I just keep on going, keep crawling, keep scrambling across the keys because

I can’t ever stop, where can

I stop, there is no where to stop, so why stop at all?

All I can do is wander on and on, wherever my senses lead me, although even they have no idea where I’m going, and this is where

I rule because my anonymity empowers me,

I might die crushed between two carelessly overlapped wires,

I could be flattened by the thud of a stack of papers or a book dropped accidentally or purposefully on top of me, it’s possible

I could simply be

crushed

by the sole of a shoe, a shoe whose wearer knows where he is going, soul with purpose.

As it is,

I might wind up impaled by the “h” key, a step too slow to evade an overzealous tap of the key, as emphatic as the word emphatic itself.

I’m a quotation mark spattered across the page, an organic typo, a genetic misanthrope.

I will die, never knowing home, or food, or rest, or love ever again.

Love me, and let me rest.      
Jordan is an author and assistant teacher living in Brooklyn, New York. His works have been featured in The Brooklyn Review, as well as the Brooklyn College English Majors’ Zine and Hunter College’s OliveTree Review. You can contact him via email at nycstreetpoet@gmail.com, and he can be found on Facebook, as well as on WordPress.

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