The Loneliest Job in the World

As National Poetry Month, and our celebration of it, draws to a close, we'd like to thank the four publishers that have allowed us to share their poets' inspiration with our readers: Coffee House Press, David R. Godine, City Lights, and Graywolf Press. Our last entry is by Tony Hoagland, from the recently published Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty.



The Loneliest Job in the World


As soon as you begin to ask the question, Who loves me?,

you are completely screwed, because

the next question is How Much?,


and then it is hundreds of hours later,

and you are still hunched over

your flowcharts and abacus,


trying to decide if you have gotten enough.

This is the loneliest job in the world:

to be an accountant of the heart.


It is late at night. You are by yourself,

and all around you, you can hear

the sounds of people moving


in and out of love,

pushing the turnstiles, putting

their coins in the slots,


paying the price which is asked,

which constantly changes.

No one knows why.



Tony Hoagland, "The Loneliest Job in the World" from Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty. Copyright © 2010 by Tony Hoagland. Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

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