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What it means

Unemployed: soon invisible,
after a while, unemployable,
unwanted, with your future
eroding along with confidence,
sense of self, the family
cracking along old fault lines.
And what do you do? Age.

Out of work: out of security,
out of value, out of the routine
that organizes the days, out
of health insurance, out of
the house when the mortgage
can’t be paid, out on the street,
out of society, out of luck.

Your job was shipped
overseas. Your job and two
others are being done now
by one frantic worker.
A robot replaced you.
Your company was bought
and demolished.

Somebody elected you
superfluous, a discard.
Somebody made money;
somebody bought a yacht
with your old salary. Some-
body has written you off,
somebody is killing you.

At night when you can no
longer sleep, don’t blame your-
self. What could you have
done? Nothing. Choices were
made to fatten dividends,
bloat bonuses, pay for a new
trophy wife and private plane.

You did nothing wrong
except your birth. Wrong
parents. Wrong place. Wrong
race. Wrong sex. If only
you’d had the sense to be
born to the one percent
life would be truffles today.

Marge Piercy is the author of eighteen poetry books, most recently The Hunger Moon: New & Selected Poems, 1980–2010 from Knopf. Her most recent novel is Sex Wars (Harper Perennial) and PM Press has republished Vida and Dance the Eagle to Sleep with new introductions.

2012, Volume 64, Issue 04 (September)
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