Alien Ants Invade the Waffle House
They walk upright, seven feet tall, not counting the antennae,
and pack a laser weapon fused to their purple shell-skin.
They seem to be protected with a force field that our bullets
cannot penetrate. Many major cities have fallen.
The voice on the radio also says they are coming our way.
It’s around midnight, there are eight of us in the diner. I say to them,
This aint no Armageddon; there is no savior here
but for ourselves. We can run and get gunned down
or we can die lying on the floor behind those doors
or under these stools, quivering in our nightmares.
Or we can die standing for our freedom.
It’s just another monster. We make our stand here.
I’ll fetch the stuff we’ll need from the pick-up truck—
malathion, that or-gan-o-phos-phate–in-sec-ti-cide.
It says right chere on the label that it mucks up
their nervous system. Folks, let’s make ‘em nervous.
Frank, get all the bags of grits stored in the back.
Sally, you’re a single mom experienced with deadbeat
bugs, and sweet talk. When they come through that door,
don’t nobody go screaming. Let them take us hostage
lest they’d be forced to kill us. Let’s not do that.
Sally nods as she draws her last breath
from a menthol cigarette, flicks the finished butt,
and grinds the nicotine-rich nub into the asphalt.
I stare at her shoes arcing the ground, pressing.
I remember a few days ago stomping out a fire
ant hive, grinding their formic acid carcasses
into Texas dirt, the sweet alkaline dirt.
We feel the high-pitched static in the air
as the giant ants approach the diner. We sit still
as they march inside. Sally, behind the counter, extends
the trays full of sugar and powdered grits for a swell
meal laced with malathion, just to make sure.
Ants can’t smell malathion.
She smiles her hospitality smile at the leader,
says, Here’s a little extra sugar just for you.
Of course, they can’t understand a word, but like
the sugar, their mandibles raking granules into
their crablike faces. Still smiling, she mumbles
in her almost forgotten Harlem accent, You sho’ is ugly!
But no mo’ uglier than that throw-up face of fear.
Outside, the Waffle House sign flickers its yellow
into the tall night, and its light buzzes in the still air.
Moths always flitter to the light.
And other insects, too.
Stand firm. Let the ants shiver and quake. The atmosphere of the Waffle House should make them feel as if they are the enemy. Pour some syrup on their wings. Butter their feet. They will remember the invasion, if they survive. Anne