The Bread Line


The Bread Line

Bread lines on sidewalk cracks
start and end with silent smugglers.
Queued, ranks of worker ants scurry
to moist nests in fissures,
valets to white-rice eggs,
nothing matters but next.

Ants begin with burdens
larger than their bodies.
When something needs doing,
she does it – skirting roadblocks,
swerving to avoid gridlock.
Chemical tweets pass possibilities,
direct attention to great need.

Humans on the god-seat at picnics poke
twigs in mounds, ramparts of castle walls,
These Richter-nine earthquakes massacre
the breadline that ants rebuild,
haul waste, and scavenge leftovers
as if nothing feels like war.

Does a brainstorm
in swarm intelligence smell
yellow like a lightning bolt?
A gentle shower of sweated mutualism?

What does a message taste like
that can predict
the genocide of a tribe?

(First published in Urban Wild, Finishing Line Press.)

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Tricia Knoll is a Portland, Oregon poet who has maintained gardens all her life, sowing the seeds of sanity. She grew up admiring her mother’s roses and vegetable garden. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and volunteers at Portland’s Washington Park Rose Test Garden. Her chapbook Urban Wild is available from Amazon and focuses on interactions between humans and wildlife in urban habitat.

Her lyric and eco-poetry of  Ocean’s Laughter (Aldrich Press) focuses on a small town on the Oregon coast, Manzanita. Website:
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