House of Words smudge pot wooden menu frame

Tar Days

Lane was a nimrod.
Even so, we were friends over tar.

That summer we watched
men in the street
pulling hot tar from smudge pots
like shiny taffy.

They filled
cement cracks,
and sweat.

I know I could work that hard, I said.
I know I could too.
Lane was always 'could-too'ing me.

When they left,
we twisted and scooped up
wads of soft black gum
with our ant sticks.

We stole away to the mound.
He began kicking it.

Careful, Lane, you'll spook 'em.
Not as long as the king's in there, he goes.
They don't have a king. It's a queen, Nimrod.

We unholstered our jumbo movie straws,
jammed them into the mound,
and through them trummpeted:

All ants will vacate mound at once.
There's a new sheriff in town.
Say hello to Sheriff Tar

As the ants poured out, we rolled
around the tary ends of our sticks,
collecting them into spastic blobs.

We touched the blobs together,
then pulled them apart,
making a long hot strand.

They're worker ants.
There's a nice hot bridge they can work on

The bridge sagged, then split.
Each steaming half swung back
toward the pants of its holder.

Lane cooly hit the ground, rolled, saved himself.
I danced and swiped wildly at my blob.

He goes,
I have a little sand on my pants.
You've been tarred and ant'ed.

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