When it comes in contact with an insect, the silica removes the waxy outer coating
from the insect’s exoskeleton. Without this coating, the insect cannot retain water
and dies of dehydration.
White pollen of the tombstone,
I build little pyramids of you
to keep the ants away. You slip
like an envelope beneath a door.
Secrets hidden in your making
when I learn you come from bones.
It’s the law about diamond only
broken by diamond all over again.
How I am most dangerous to myself.
And to these ants, who run a livid
line from the ceiling down the wall
to the sink, so I drive to the store
and buy this bag of white earth
so soft it disgusts me. Tonight
let me slip into something a little
less conscious; two bottles deep
I conduct a census of bodies I have
labored away. Let them come in!
Let the dotted line of carbon-
copied ants shiver down the wall.
Their Spartan life: point A to B.
I could follow it too—the arcana
of instinct. Watch me
squirm under fluorescent lights
so suddenly aware I am alone.
In a thin mask of sweat I dial
the numbers I have learned
by heart and then hang up.
I lay a little pox upon my sink,
a ring of earth around the house.
NICK MARTINO is a Best New Poets and Best of the Net nominee whose work has been published or is forthcoming from Frontier Poetry, Sugar House Review, Fugue, Birdcoat Quarterly, Meridian, and Hobart, among others. An MFA candidate in poetry at University of California, Irvine, he was the winner of UC Irvine’s 2021 Programs in Writing Award for Excellence in Poetry. He serves as the poetry editor of Faultline Journal and lives in Los Angeles.