The Protest: Ant Work Ethic

                          1

Awake and blinking?  Time to rise,
To start another working day
Because, they say, an ant who tries

Succeeds!  And furthermore, they say
By offering her very best,
An ant will venture all the way,

Will reach the prize, complete the quest
And earn the royal diadem!
Become the queen and show the rest

The proper way for all of them
To live and work and be an ant,
The world's unquestioned shining gem!

So rise, and may the breezes grant
The strength our inner natures can't!

                          2

And so I rise and wander far,
Examining and tasting things.
I pick them up from where they are

And move them.  How my being sings
The perfect, sweet, unclouded joy
Of motion, of the deed that brings

Relief and lets an ant employ
Her ordered sense of decency!
And yes, at times she must destroy

To bring about what has to be:
Creation's not an easy road,
You understand as well as me.

But when a structure does implode,
It's just a minor episode.

                          3

The building up is where we shine:
To take the pieces strewn about
And turn them into something fine.

I've spent the years without a doubt
Pursuing art: the commonplace
That serves a purpose, broad and stout;

The fanciful, as light as lace.
My goal in life?  To raise a smile
From every tiny, buggy face.

And yet, as foot has stretched to mile,
I've found the promise stretching, too,
As distant as tomorrow's style.

My each attempt at pushing through
Dissolves no matter what I do.

                          4

Imagination, I insist,
Remains my most important trait.
It guides me well, has never missed

The proper path if curved or straight.
And yet I strain to rein it in,
Refuse to let it contemplate

The way my prospects, good but thin,
Have stayed the same from year to year,
Have gone from can to garbage bin

While other ants I know appear
To whisk ahead and win acclaim—
But no!  I'll neither say nor hear

Aspersions!  That's the road to shame!
I won't demean another's name!

                          5

"It's not about the accolades!"
I shout.  "It's not!  It's not!  It's not!"
Until the inner echo fades.

But I from larvahood was taught
That honesty should be observed
In every way, the cold and hot.

I can't deny I grow unnerved
And swear a silent, filthy damn.
Deceitful jealousy has swerved

My heart away from who I am.
I smell the fetid swamp's caress
And ask: is everything a sham?

Despite this creeping bitterness,
My work continues nonetheless.

                          6

I simply haven't time to grouse
Or wave antennae grouchily.
An ant at work should seek to douse

The flames of discord, try to see
Connections running rock to stone,
From bush to berry, louse to flea.

Aware and marching, I atone
And bear my grain of sand along.
Harmonic striving: that alone

Can serve to carry nature's song!
The work itself, my true reward,
Endures in ways that can't go wrong!

So, yes, I've never leaped or soared,
But neither have I gotten bored.