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Ander Monson

Against Work

You don’t have to tell me
that my hands are lilies, that those
lilies are still-lives refracted forever through liquid.

I know all this and more, have never known
work—that sweat-break, air brake,
lunchbreak thing appearing to me only
in Springsteen songs and in impressive
television commercials for trucks.
                                              What size and torque! I think.
What is this manual interaction
with the earth worth, exactly? All I see is stacks
of dirty clothes and dehydration. Even my bones
are slow—they do not move through viscous fluids
(such as water—which has always been a site
of viciousness, my sisters and their hands
holding me just underneath the surface,
gasping and suspended
                                              like a rejected transplant kidney
new from the body’s covert operation,
transferred to formaldehyde for preservation)

They do not motivate my skin—my pupa,
my papoose—to go quickly in any endeavor.

Failure to reach the store before it closes
to procure any one of a variety of vitamins
for my wife. I can barely manage tasks,
much less lists of them, however simply stated
and compiled. I am a living groan, a Morrissey song.
There is something wrong and permanent with me.
A specific kind of weakness: flawed bridge. Milquetoast.
Pressure? Absolute instability beneath it.
When faced with wind and inclement, I simply wilt
and puddle, then return to home.
                                              Consider this
a sort of glory, though—why stand against any tidal current?
Why fight the moon and the countless tons of water
that it daily keeps in thrall? I yearn for entropy, for years
of sickness, pity’s pleasure, visits from the dead (and sometimes
even living, impossibly thriving in the face of this
constantly diminishing world) relatives:
                                              these things
are dreams or they are real. There is no difference.
All is flat against the wall. What I want is glossy rest
(no hint of zest, unleavened dough, tepid beer
years beyond flat): to convalesce
among the million daisies in the country, to be occupied
like a country, to be warm and slow and richly scented
like pitch or tar spread flat across the driveways
of a country. I’d go exile, forever hillbilly,
and resign all of my allegiances to flags and phones and other things
if that didn’t require so much of me.

Prairie Schooner, Vol. 82, No. 1 (Spring 2008), p. 83

Ander Monson

Ander Monson is the author of a decoder wheel, several chapbooks and limited edition letterpress collaborations, a website (http://otherelectricities.com), and five books, most recently The Available World (Sarabande) and Vanishing Point: Not a Memoir (Graywolf). He lives and teaches in Tucson, Arizona, where he edits the magazine DIAGRAM and the New Michigan Press.