Home > Poetry > Standstill [Stagnation]
Published: Fri Jul 1 2005
Eva Lundsager, Were now like (detail), 2021, oil on canvas
Standstill [Stagnation]

Heartsick, we watch the words
put on heavy coats,
pack their bags, and slip away.

We follow the march of boxes
out the door, a potted palm,
the stiff-backed wooden chairs.

How hard it is to keep things pure.
Eggs are laid in wire cages
under small suns that never set.

Milk runs spoilt from the cows.
The soil must open its mouth
to metal and sludge.

Strawberries, once a wild red fruit
of sex—inside their secret place
they are hollow.

Evildoers walk the streets,
now and then sit down
on a hard bench in our heart.

Madmen are everywhere
wiping the brown stain of money
from their palms.

We lean against a wall—the day
down on its heels.
In ledgers, we notch up our losses.

Jan Lee Ande is the author of Reliquary (Texas Review Press, 2003) and Instructions for Walking on Water (Ashland Poetry Press, 2001). Her poems appear in New Letters, Image, Mississippi Review, Notre Dame Review, Nimrod, Bellevue Literary Review, and Poetry International. (updated 5/2005)

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