Dilemma

By David Ignatow 1914–1997 David Ignatow
Whatever we do, whether we light
strangers’ cigarettes—it may turn out
to be a detective wanting to know who is free   
with a light on a lonely street nights—
or whether we turn away and get a knife
planted between our shoulders for our discourtesy;   
whatever we do—whether we marry for love   
and wake up to find love is a task,
or whether for convenience to find love   
must be won over, or we are desperate—
whatever we do; save by dying,
and there too we are caught,
by being planted too close to our parents.

David Ignatow, “Dilemma” from Against the Evidence: Selected Poems 1934-1994. Copyright © 1993 by David Ignatow. Reprinted with the permission of Wesleyan University Press.

Source: Against the Evidence: Selected Poems 1934-1994 (Wesleyan University Press, 1993)

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Poet David Ignatow 1914–1997

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Parenthood, Coming of Age, Living, Time & Brevity

 David  Ignatow

Biography

David Ignatow is remembered as a poet who wrote popular verse about the common man and the issues encountered in daily life. In all, he wrote or edited more than twenty-five books and was the recipient of numerous awards, including the Poetry Society of America's Shelley Memorial Prize and Robert Frost Medal, the Bollingen Prize, and the John Steinbeck Award. Early in his career he worked in a butcher shop. He also helped out in . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Parenthood, Coming of Age, Living, Time & Brevity

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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