Thursday, March 03, 2016

The Sunday Poet: Emily Pineau

Emily Pineau

At the Unemployment Office

Everyone is staring at me,
even though this is everyone’s first day—
I am not the new kid.
But people wonder
if I really know where I am.
I feel their minds turning.
I either look like I should still be
in high school or as though
I should be all set with my life—
Because everything is just
handed to me.
I have never struggled
with anything.
Nothing is wrong.
I am not here.

LinkedIn Blah blah blah,
Networking, networking, you need to
Network better.
A man is leaning back in his chair
behind me—
“Excuse me, I just got offered a job this morning,
why am I here?”
The instructor says,
“I will talk to you after.”

Old man sweaters, glasses and cigarette stench,
Confused and nervous makeup on women,
impossible to guess
their age.

Just like college—
Instructor explains something,
student raises their hand
and asks the question
that was just answered.

“I do not understand the online form,” says the man
at the end
of the table.
He reminds me of someone
I saw at a poetry reading once.
The shape of his face—
He says,
“It isn’t specific enough,
It is too broad.
There was no option
that matched what I am.
I am not just a truck driver.
It is so much more than that.
I can’t select that.
Too broad,
way too broad.”
He whispers to the man sitting next to him,
they nod.
I wonder if they are friends.

When I am leaving, the receptionist wants
to know my life story:
The writer who got a job
at a publishing firm right after graduation,
then got laid off four months later.
She takes notes, explaining they are for
her 13-year-old daughter
who wants to be a writer too.
She doesn’t care that I am unemployed.
To her, I am successful.
She feels the need to say,
 “I will write this down more neatly later.”

--Emily Pineau

 Emily Pineau’s chapbook No Need to Speak (Ibbetson Street Press, 2013) was chosen for The Aurorean’s Chap Book Choice in 2013. Pineau has been featured on New Mexico’s National Public Radio, and her poems have appeared in The Broken PlateFreshwater, Muddy River Poetry Review (which nominated her poem “I Would For You” for a Pushcart Prize), Oddball Magazine, and elsewhere. She is the director and editor of Ibbetson Street Press’s Young Poet Series, and she is pursing her MFA in Creative Writing at Pine Manor College.

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