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Unemployment (2)

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Another day come, add it
To the list, the
Not to do list.
Son of mine,
I was rambling across the undercarpeting
Strewn with imperceptible tacks
In one shapeless slip-on
When a pain rang out in my flank
And I fell to,
Braying,
But who should answer but no one.
I lost good cause that day, don’t ask,
Let us sit a bit in this ill-starred
Suit in the form-filling
Chamber of subtraction,
Listing.
I haven’t another trip around the sun
Left in me. Speak to me
Son, vague one.
For this is where it thickens,
Me here and it there and me there and them here
And you with the soul.
I’ll cross that gravid boneyard
All the day poking
Radishes for remembrance.
For this is a private matter
Between a man and his scaffolding
And it shall remain so
Privation permitting.

Source: Poetry (July/August 2012)

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This poem originally appeared in the July/August 2012 issue of Poetry magazine

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Unemployment (2)

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  • Mark Levine is the author of four books of poetry: Debt (1993), Enola Gay (2000), The Wilds (2006), and Travels of Marco (2016). His poetry has appeared in a number of anthologies, including American Poets in the Twenty-First Century: The New Poetics (2007) and American Hybrid (2009), among others. His work of nonfiction, F5: Devastation, Survival, and the Most Violent Tornado Outbreak of the 20th Century (2007), is a history of the outbreak of 148 tornadoes across the United States in early April 1973. He has written for magazines, including the New York Times Magazine, Outside, the New Yorker, and Bicycling magazine.
    Levine is the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award, a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. An associate professor of poetry at the University of Iowa, Levine has taught in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop since 1999. 

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