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On Being Fired Again

I’ve known the pleasures of being

fired at least eleven times—

most notably by Larry who found my snood

unsuitable, another time by Jack,

whom I was sleeping with. Poor attitude,

tardiness, a contagious lack

of team spirit; I have been unmotivated

squirting perfume onto little cards,

while stocking salad bars, when stripping

covers from romance novels, their heroines

slaving on the chain gang of obsessive love—

and always the same hard candy

of shame dissolving in my throat;

handing in my apron, returning the cash-

register key. And yet, how fine it feels,

the perversity of freedom which never signs

a rent check or explains anything to one’s family.

I’ve arrived again, taking one more last

walk through another door, thinking “I am

what is wrong with America,” while outside

in the emptied, post-rushhour street,

the sun slouches in a tulip tree and the sound

of a neighborhood pool floats up on the heat.

from One Above and One BelowFind it in the library

Copyright © 2000 Erin Belieu
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

Published in Erin Belieu Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.