Jonathan Duckworth


Before The Storm

In the woods, black ants run down

an upturned log, a wooden escarpment

raised a yard above the forest floor. 

The ants plummet to loam and leaf litter

by the hundreds and hundreds each second, 

their bodies sounding like what’s to come; 

presentimental echo of the song of rain; 

ritual theater; propitiation to the same gods

that will flood their tunnels and smother

their queen, drown their eggs, and erase 

the stencil borders of their kingdom.



Five Modern Analects


One termite to another says:

“Sometimes I think all we’re building 

are our own tombs.” 

And the other says: “No, tombs are for queens; 

we’ll die in the sun, on the hard concrete,

searching for a crack to lay our eggs in.” 



I hear in Russia Joseph Stalin’s back in fashion,

and in Asia Genghis Khan never quite went out,

and if getting things done makes a good leader,

Andrew “Action” Jackson may be our finest man. 



Maybe we really do need guns 

to protect ourselves

from the armed ones convinced

that they’re the ones in danger. 



If we build the next truck just a little bigger,

so that it takes up 1.75 lanes instead of just 1.5, 

we can all ride through the heart of the ashcloud

after the waking Yellowstone supervolcano 

stretches its limbs and lays hands 

on the fertile breast of America. 



Consider the snowglobe in your hand: 

the little man standing by his little cottage

also believes he’s outside the glass. 


Jonathan Louis Duckworth is an MFA student at Florida International University in Miami, where he serves as a reader and copy-editor for the Gulf Stream Magazine. His fiction and poetry appears in or is forthcoming in Sliver of Stone Magazine, Mount Island Magazine, Clapboard House, and Gravel: A Literary Journal among others.

Posted on June 11, 2015 .