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Unemployment (3)

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Out of cash, out of well-fitting trousers,
Out of soap and apples,
Out of pencils, out of my keeper’s
Reach.

I wish to set myself afire
But may not. This morning
(Last night) in the common room
I watched the administration
Of oxygen to one who had none

And I would not sit down, demanding
To do so.

Later I happened on a man
At the piano, and though I have happened five or six times
On men at the piano,
None moved his hand like this
Within the keys.

I sat beside him, looking for a sound
A chest sound. Not listening; I don’t listen
Anymore. I make music
But I don’t listen.

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 (3)

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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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