Self-Employed By 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?
Note to Poetry Out Loud students: This poem begins with an epigraph that must be recited. Omitting the epigraph will affect your accuracy score.
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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