Laid off from my job, given one day to pack
thirty years into two copy machine paper boxes.
Rolled them out to my car with my bike and never looked back.
I hear school buses come and go in the morning and late afternoon
and witness light shifting and shadows pouring out
like ghosts from another life.
I go to the thrift store, buy a new top
in case for a zoom interview.
Make chicken noodle soup and write sad poems.
Inside of every poem is a God trying not to forget you.
Pick fruit from the abundant tree
bake crisp, pie, bread.
Apply for jobs, apply for jobs, apply for jobs.
Change my middle name to Wait.
Apply for jobs some more
Inside of every poem is a God saying
Thank you for your interest but.
Browse the internet, sweep the floors, do the dishes.
In the seconds between rejection and acceptance
look in the mirror to see who I am.
Fold the laundry, wait for a delivery
fumble then rise, fumble then rise.
Upload my resume, then retype the whole thing
into a separate application page.
Watch the spinning death of my computer.
Weed the garden, plow through mail.
Watch my severance dwindle.
Inside of every poem is a God
with nothing left to say.
Labor Day, After A Layoff
We move the chairs
from shade to sun and back
as September light cascades.
Shadows, fickle, move and change
like memory into our minds and out.
The sky spills blue from its dusty cup
as a glossed, glassed stillness seeds us with inertia.
Somewhere an apple waits upon a desk.
I taught and more for forty years.
When I was young before the first bell rang,
I bought new socks and underwear
for everyone in the house.
The day yellow now
has changed the sound of traffic
even the engines are filled with less desire.
I taught them words for living
One student wrote
After my mother died,
I stopped playing the piano.
Ann Iverson, writer and artist, is a graduate of both the MALS and MFA programs at Hamline University. She is the author of five poetry collections. Her poems have appeared in a wide variety of journals and venues including six features on Writer’s Almanac. Her poem “Plenitude” was set to a choral arrangement by composer Kurt Knecht. She is also the author and illustrator of two children’s books. She is currently working on her sixth collection of poetry, a book of children’s verse, and a collection of personal essays.