"What do you want to be when you grow up?"
What child cries out, ‘An exterminator!’?
One diligent student in Mrs. Taylor’s
class will get an ant farm for Christmas, but
he’ll not see industry; he’ll see dither.
"The ant sets an example for us all,"
wrote Max Beerbohm, a master of dawdle,
"but it is not a good one." These children
don’t hope to outlast the doldrums of school
only to heft great weights and work in squads
and die for their queen. Well, neither did we.
And we knew what we didn’t want to be:
the ones we looked down on, the lambs of God,
blander than snow and slow to be cruel.
-- William Matthews
from The Best American Poetry 1997