My Father Teaches Me to Dream

By Jan Beatty Jan Beatty
You want to know what work is?
I’ll tell you what work is:
Work is work.
You get up. You get on the bus.
You don’t look from side to side.
You keep your eyes straight ahead.
That way nobody bothers you—see?
You get off the bus. You work all day.
You get back on the bus at night. Same thing.
You go to sleep. You get up.
You do the same thing again.
Nothing more. Nothing less.
There’s no handouts in this life.
All this other stuff you’re looking for—
it ain’t there.
Work is work.

First printed in “Witness,” Volume 10, Number 2, and reprinted by permission of the author. Copyright © 1996 by Jan Beatty, whose latest book, Boneshaker, was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in 2002.

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Poet Jan Beatty

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Relationships, Jobs & Working, Activities

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Jan  Beatty


Jan Beatty’s books include The Switching/Yard (2013), Red Sugar (2008), Boneshaker (2002), and Mad River (1995), published by University of Pittsburgh Press.

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Jobs & Working, Activities

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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