Carpenter Ant
Jesse Breite

He fell off the ceiling, got stuck
marching in the carpet’s threaded swamp.
I went for him, but he didn’t release
his tonged and chomped jaws.
I gave a quick tug as warning.
On the second, the beaded body
popped free of the ebon head,
and even disembodied, the viced grip
of his chops held fast to the carpet-bushel.

When members of the family die,
they decide it’s going to happen.
My cousin drank holes into
his liver, offering a simple cheers
to its failure. His teeth fell out,
one by one. My mom’s dad
who I never knew, smoked sixty
non-filtered cigarettes every day—
his body a furnace of moods.
Grandma said she’d have to be
carried out of the house. Suddenly,
the person disappears, and only
the stubborn jaw echoes after
clamping the soul’s threads.

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