Poem against Selfies


But I have so much to say!

For instance, did you realize
that insects are the most diverse group of organisms
on the entire planet, representing approximately
80% of the world’s species?
That at any given time
there are an estimated 10 quintillion
individual insects alive,
that the number of (living and dead) species of insects
is said to be, at a minimum,
30 million?
Or how a single ant nest in Jamaica
was recently calculated to house 630,000 ants,
that in 1983 a South American termite nest was found
to have three million termites in it,
that a normal-sized locust swarm
might contain as many as
one billion locusts?
But what, anyway, is the self
to an insect, an insect
to the self? There’s no singular
form of pest
control, of insecticide.
A desire to kill one
is, invariably, a desire
to kill them all.
Hive whine, incessant,
the collective—
10 quintillion, 30 million strong—
is always focal, of utmost importance.
And that death’s harvest
season is soon
and inevitable is of little concern
to each nest, swarm, hive.
The power of it
lies in a lack of distinction,
utter refusal to individualize
we from I,
self from nest.
To know no version of your self
other than one you never arrived at
and never will
is to accept your self
as not who
but merely—gloriously—
part of the hive,
So much can be misimproved
and then never righted again.
Intuitively insects know this.

Perhaps such musing, though,
is wholly psychological in nature,
self-sourced pandering.
Of psychology Paul Valéry said,
“The purpose of it is to give us
a completely different idea of things
we know best.”
Which, of course, raises
the question—What do we know
Indecisive, egotistical, utterly dependent—
certainly not our selves.
But what then? Dirt?
Skylight’s consistently varied blue?
Death? Power?
Love? The way the rain
spatters and sputters onto the dirty lawn
chairs framing our
narrow front porch, God?
Stale breath emitting from a mouth
housed by wrinkled cheeks?
Traffic? Mustard? Time?

All of these, yes,
and, according to Valéry’s definition,
none of them at all.

The past is a foreign country,
the present whispered in oft-unintelligible dialects,

the future eventual
in mysterious and indifferent ways.

In the midst of each is a sumptuous,
irrecoverable version of our selves.

Which is to say that every beginning ends
what every ending begins.

Or lust, love, and longing will come
and go but uncertainty
is here forever.
Simplicity is never simplistic:
Wilt Chamberlain slept with 20,000 women
and, at the age of 63, died of congestive
heart failure, alone.
But his bachelorhood was by choice, see?
As taking a selfie is also a choice,
one driven by insecurity, desire,
and the need for acceptance.
When, toward the end of his life,
Chamberlain was asked about his philandering,
he responded, “I had to destroy the village in order to save it.
The sixties, the seventies, and me
traveling everywhere, here and there, in and out—
what choice did I have?”
Simplicity is never simplistic—
narrow alleys footnoting
expansive avenues,
night after night
the starlight’s
incessantly varied
But what choice do we have?