By David Ignatow 1914–1997 David Ignatow

For Harvey Shapiro

I stand and listen, head bowed,   
to my inner complaint.
Persons passing by think
I am searching for a lost coin.   
You’re fired, I yell inside
after an especially bad episode.   
I’m letting you go without notice   
or terminal pay. You just lost   
another chance to make good.
But then I watch myself standing at the exit,   
depressed and about to leave,   
and wave myself back in wearily,   
for who else could I get in my place   
to do the job in dark, airless conditions?

David Ignatow, “Self-Employed” 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 Arts & Sciences, Philosophy, Jobs & Working, Activities

 David  Ignatow


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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SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Philosophy, Jobs & Working, Activities

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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