Ansley Clark

The Present Progressive



Somewhere a phone is ringing and ringing
and I am pacing the house’s many stacked rooms


it’s like     to actually just     lay here
what would happen!     this refusal


a vegetable’s soft bitterness     against the generally agreed-upon outcome
that surely one’s assembled reality will collapse


without its scaffolding built
of frantic labor and fear


somewhere else a man will not stop explaining things
and I am holding my head


fragmented as I am like a city
trying to remember     what I wanted to remember


under the pink midday sun
a yellow bicycle     basket full of lemons


and ringing     lassos the day     the actions themselves resembling
the gerunds and the participles


tired balloons trailing through
the industrial land


and I do not want this ugly grammar     a shadow
dragging     across all the emptied images


which I leave behind
naming them     idleness


it’s exhausting     always this question of what
are you doing here


ANSLEY CLARK is a writer and teacher living in Seattle. Her work has appeared in Crazyhorse, Hobart, Black Warrior Review, Colorado Review, and elsewhere. She has an MFA in poetry from the University of Colorado and is currently earning a master’s in literacy and language from the University of Washington.