The battle-fury now dissipated into the usual calm
miseries and slowly savoured spoils of scavenging pride
such conquests bestowed on the ranks of his species.
Theirs was a long history of unchecked gluttony
for conflict, combat, and conquest
making them the most feared aggressors of their kind.
Their militant society continually advanced
in steps marching beyond survival instincts
into zealously fanatical, constant acts of aggression.
They were a vast army of ants,
a single-minded soldierly race of beings,
each working in a frenzy of duty and self-sacrifice.
They were empowered by their numbers
and unquestioning obedience
to serve the dictates of the common purpose
of their robotic insect lives.
They abhorred the mutations of individualism
which rarely surfaced in their troops,
considering such manifestations
as treacherous treason— as dangerous
as the weaponry of weak mandibles.
He knew he was somehow a mutation,
but had hidden his secret
with desperate cunning and desperate courage.
He successfully fulfilled frustrating demands
to act out his life in the expected ways,
ways tolerated and accepted by his social order.
All eyes were the eyes of spies.
He looked about the battlefield of this new territory,
disgusted by the weakness of this particular enemy.
Their bodies were now grotesque statues
spread everywhere in rigid poses,
some with missing limbs and heads
like the statuary of fallen ruins he’d once seen.
He observed the scene with analytic fascination,
his large protruding eyes unblinking
in their detailed examination of the carnage scene.
The mutated sensitivity of his vision
artfully brushed every raw edge of severed body parts,
carefully noting every angle of captured gesture,
studying the chiaroscuro of light and darkness.
The scene was endlessly repetitive in his memory
yet held him in captive fascination every time.
He understood this far better than
the mystery of caterpillars and harmless butterflies.
Everything about them caused him to question his
natural instincts, his drilled education—
caused him to think more deeply about survival,
aggression, and his own mutation.
He wondered about how many unimagined alien lives
might fill the unknown territories, the vast unknown.
How often such thoughts betrayed him to himself
and he reacted with swift executions
of self-condemnation and guilt.
He detected sudden movement among the dead—
an enemy with the audacious will to survive his wounds,
yet too badly wounded to provide a threat
and soon surrounded by scavengers busily at work.
He turned from the drama,
indifferent to the merciless death
taking over where merciless life left off,
looking up instead.
His ever-alert antennae informed him
of the vibrating drone overhead—
a massive swarm of killer-bees on the move.
Now here was a species he understood,
a breed of aggressors without conscience,
a rigid and militant society much like his own.
His leg twitched uncontrollably
and his body grew strangely colder
despite the summer day’s heat.
March,1992, revised May, 2004