Wendy Taylor Carlisle




They simmer
in the window frames,
in sand. They over-
run the kitchen,
counters and drawers.
They march in military
lines, bent on plunder.
They sweep across
the alp of the threshold,
scatter the granules
of sugar. They pass
their metasoma across
bits of our lives,
burrowing in the cutlery,
the kibble for the puppy,
hidden among the mugs,
they mimic the geometric
patterns on bowls.
Super-orgasims, how
resistant they are
to our feeble poisons,
dusted too lightly
in their small offices,
their cabinets. By the time
we spot the ruined loaf,
the empty honey jar
shining back at us,
they’ve left, disappeared
behind the woodwork.
They were born to run,
first for school board,
then city council,
raucous voices in
our voiceless rooms.
They sport exoskeletal
uniforms, army ants
that do nothing
but eat and breed, red
ants, bulldogs, carpenters,
slave-makers, the infernal
fire ant preaching
perdition and damnation
out by the mailbox
in a voice we
could not hear with
our big, dumb human ears.
They take their stolen loot
to a nest we know
is not heaven, thief ants,
crazy ants, drones
and queens, killer ants
up from the south,
beneath our attention,
unnoticed until
they are all we notice,
disregarded until
they are never gone.


The family next-door’s house sets afire at midnight and we watch it from the safety
of across the clothesline. The neighbors are big people. On our side of the fence,

we have been known to make sly fun of them as they lumber out to the grocery.
We are silly and arrogant, everyday-young, smiling and waving, thinking they don’t

take us in. They keep to themselves as you might say. They are quiet in the street.
Inside the now-burning house, they roared at each other but they aren’t roaring now.

They are huddled on their grass, attending to the whoosh and thunder as the flame
reaches up—one, two, three stories and they clutch their blankets and coats closer.

I live with a musician, if you know what I mean: the bassman snoring on the couch
under a ratty pink blanket, the fiddle player and his wife screwing in the attic, loud

as cats. In the reflected heat I don’t know what I am feeling exactly: a little dread,
a little awe, a little joy? I wish I could say I was glad it wasn’t us but there’s a buzz

up into my neck at the rip and cinder of it, the red flowering of it, the hose and squish
and, at that moment, I am without mercy, without the grace to wonder what if.


WendyCarslyleWendy Taylor Carlisle lives and works in the Arkansas Ozarks. She is the author of two books Reading Berryman to the Dog (Jacaranda Books, 2000) and Discount Fireworks (Jacaranda Books, 2008) and three chapbooks. Her most recent publication is Persephone on the Metro, from Mad Hat Press (2014). She has been 10 times nominated for the Pushcart Prize and once for Best of the Web. Some of her publications are linked on-line at wendytaylorcarlisle.com. 

2 thoughts on “Wendy Taylor Carlisle”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: