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And the Second Winner of the “Arc Award of Awesomeness” is . . .

self-photo with prizes by the author

Owen Schaefer, for the poem “I poison the ants and regret it”!


Sarah Tsiang and the Arc Poetry Magazine Board also selected three runners-up:

      • “Week 4” by Catriona Wright
      • “Illanelle, March 2020” by Robbie Chesick
      • “Apex Predators” by Chris Jennings


i poison the ants and regret it



at their size     the backyard could be countries

travelled      France the rose bush the      shed

Austria     where we went skiing in February

even as all this was beginning     mouths covered

on the flight despite stares    overreacting

everyone thought       but anyway the ants

crossed into the kitchen in March

through that crack in the baseboard

i used bleach to kill their chemical trails

but they waded through it       dying

five of them      bodies knotted and

an hour later two had vanished    then the rest

my wife says the living claim the dead

for food    one neighbour now at Sainsbury’s

texts to ask if we need anything    our street

caring for its own      i prefer to think

those ants were taken to be mourned

but i put a bait trap out           anyway

imagine you are far from home      you

bring back that souvenir      back to family

back to friends      all of us home now

grandfathers    mothers     uncles     aunts

some sick      some dying      and you say

but i didn’t know      just imagine that

today i walked the thousand ant miles to shed

insecticides inside     seeds i haven’t planted

and no ants now      the streets almost empty




You still have time to enter Arc’s June Award of Awesomeness!