Published on Academy of American Poets (


It’s like ants
and more ants.

West, east
their little axes

hack and tease.
Your sins. Your back taxes.

This is your Etna,					
your senate						
of dread, at the axis					
of reason, your taxi					
to hell. You see
your past tense—

and next? A nest
of jittery ties.

You’re ill at ease,
at sea,

almost in-
sane.  You’ve eaten

your saints.  
You pray to your sins.

Even sex 
is no exit. 

Ah, you exist.  


Copyright © 2014 by Donna Masini. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on January 21, 2014. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

About this Poem

"After finishing a novel, I was in that drifting place, scribbling, taking notes, slowly collecting drafts toward a new book I'm calling 4:30 Movie. Terrance Hayes suggested I try to write an 'anagram/word scramble' poem—a form he'd 'invented.' As with any form or prompt, sometimes it leads somewhere, sometimes not, but there's always a surprise, and my first attempt ended up in another poem: 'If you think in anagrams,/ parades and drapes, diapers, rape, despair and aspire/ all come out of paradise.' Depending upon mood or poem I give myself different formal conditions, but every line must end (and in some poems begin as well) with one of the words that comes out of the scramble. Sometimes I use this to 'warm up'—to play. Sometimes I try it when I'm anxious—hence the title of this one."
—Donna Masini


Donna Masini

Donna Masini is the author of three poetry collections, most recently 4:30 Movie (W. W. Norton, 2018). 

Date Published: 2014-01-21

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