Joannie Stangeland: "The Verbs Will Not Conjugate"




No past, no future perfect,

instead, they rest in the infinitive—

or infinity, going on and on

about what could, what might,

singing to, to, to—a longing song.

In this chapter, she has parsed

for predicates, but movement remains

hypothetical, like an old professor

she barely remembers

in a class she used to cut.

She picks one phrase from the tangle,

starts it over: to love, to live,

to wander barefoot after dark

when the air smells like lilacs,

to eat toast in the morning and watch

the sun spill up over the water.



Joannie Stangeland has had work appear in CHEST, Horticulture, JAMA, Chaffin Journal, The Smoking Poet, and Ekleksographia. She is also the author of two poetry chapbooks and the host of an online video series “A Writer’s Guide to Microsoft Office.”