Gary Metras

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The Ants

Someone dropped a piece of chocolate
on the sidewalk and within minutes
it was covered with ants. We crowded
round, and more kids came along
to stare at the crawling, wriggling ants
as they elbowed and kneed each other
for a lick of life’s sweet fortune.
Kevin ran home to return with a can
of lighter-fluid. Blondie-Susie was saying
Don’t even as Billy yelled, I got
matches. It was quick. There was
hootin’ and cheerin’ and tears.
We stomped on the flames and crisp,
black dots jumped everywhere.
We went home with fire in the eyes.
And later Kevin went to Vietnam
then the bottle. Crazy-Donny out grew
his awful seizures. Debbie got
a banker drunk and lives in a mansion
in Chicago. Kenny didn’t play pro ball,
but served thirty years in the factory
before it closed down. Shy-Dickie went
into the Air Force and never came
back. Adelle, we think, is still in jail
in Mexico. Jerry drives the school bus
and his cute sister was pregnant seven
times by five men. Gary went to college
on the G.I. Bill to teach school and talks
about retiring. Know-It-All-Stanley sweeps
the floors at Merriam-Webster’s. Susie
is a nurse’s aid and a mother and a
grandmother and seldom sees her twin
brother. Holy-Roy retired from the Post Office
and walks his neighbor’s dogs.
Billy B. has ex-wives and inherited my father’s
worn bar stool at the Royal Café. And one day
walking into the drugstore in my 73rd year,
I step on a can of lighter fluid and
remember the smell of burning ants.

“Fire Destroys Home”

(front page headline)

At 7:22 p.m. the fire department
got a call for smoke showing
from a home on Wendell Road.
When firefighters arrived,
they found the top floor in flames.
The residents’ two dogs died.
But no people were hurt.
As of 9:20 p.m., the fire was not
yet totally under control.
The fire chief added
that it would likely take a few
more hours to completely
put out the flames.
One firefighter was taken
to the hospital for a non-life-
threatening condition
related to the extreme
heat and humidity.
Mutual aid was provided.

(a found poem)


Gary Metras’s new book of poetry is Vanishing Points (Dos Madres Press, 2021). His White Storm (Presa Press 2018), was selected as a Must Read Title in the Massachusetts Books of the Year Program. His poems have appeared in America, The Common, Poetry, Poetry East, and Poetry Salzburg Review. He lives in Easthampton, Massachusetts, where, in April 2018, he was appointed as the city’s inaugural Poet Laureate.