it was half past the middle of who gives a shit / I had plenty of time and nothing to do with it / I’d made more inscrutable excuses than Confucius / I was ruthless / truthless / completely toothless / fact was, you see / there was this olive tree / sprawling out of a pot / a pot it had outgrown somewhat / its branches taking terrible chances / making all kindsa dangerous advances / not what you’d call a container remainer / the tree was a pot-bound no-brainer / if I didn’t do something soon I’d be up before the garden bench / no defence / they wouldn’t care it’s a first offence / judge pruny’d be laying it on with her gavel / screaming drag him outside / bury him in gravel / so finally I gave in and said yeah, sure, I’ll do it / I had my chance of an easy day and I blew it / but a tree’s a tree / it means a lot to me / I’m not some sap who ducks his responsibility / I didn’t say I wouldn’t / I said I might / my bark’s worse than my bite / so I nailed it / high-tailed it / took the big car and I sailed it / far, far away to a distant shore / and an independent gardening store / bought a ton of compost, a frost-proof pot and a broom / is that big enough I said to the guy / yeah man, he said, that’s plenty of room / I said d’you think I need some special kinda grit / he laughed and said man, you’re looking at it / I didn’t follow / I looked at him a while / dry-swallowed / don’t worry he said / I’m messin’ with your head / john innes no 3’s porous enough for your olive tree / that’s kind of you I said / you coulda sold me a kilo / you’re welcome / he said / no problemo / next time I want a ton of grit / I’ll be sure to come to you for it / great, he said, well, you know where we are / shall I help you carry this shit to the car? / as soon as I was back I got right to it / lay the tree on the ground with a shitload of shards all around / and the tree popped out fast / like it was throwing itself out at last / I mean, it just about leaped up and danced / and that’s when I saw all the ants / like a goddamn festival, or a mini riot / but furiously quiet / a plague of ants, in streaming spouts / a hundred million or thereabouts / tiny and shiny and ready to attack / some with little white eggs on their backs / every last one of them so ticked-off and furious / I mean – naturally I was curious / what could they want with me / I was only here for the tree / so I leant in close to have a look / and that’s when they ran up my arms and tried to fight me / antacid me / bite me / I just wiped them away / you’re wasting your time today / I said / I’m basically a god / so drop it, okay? / I’m sorry I busted up your nest / but hey, I’m doing my best / and anyways, like it says in Deuteronomy / go up / take possession / I mean – hey – this is some sweet ceramic concession / and look – there’s plenty of room for your colony / but did they listen? no, they did not / they just carried on running around a lot / mad to get their babies back in the pot / I mean – I scooped up handfuls / I did what I could / but I think I did more harm than good / and at the end of the day I could only ever be / just another antland catastrophe / anyway, I’m done / let’s move on / the new pot’s here, the old pot’s gone / c’mon / give it a chance / there are worlds to build / holes to be filled / underground gardens and nurseries to be drilled / and they responded well to my peroration / gave me a goddamn standing ovation / the father of the new ant nation / until the smarter ones saw what it was I was plotting / viz a vis / stage three / of the whole tree repotting / they alone saw the destroyer’s plan / to water the pot with a watering can / and they pointed to the sky / and they cried out / in vain, my poor, sweet, clear-sighted friends / in vain / they’ll only believe when they see the rain