[Poetry Friday] “The Universe is Your Country” by John Estes

poetry friday

Fats here.

Today’s post features another poem included in the poetry collection, 99 Poems for the 99 Percent, edited by Dean Rader. This anthology of poetry was published in 2013. I was happy to learn that writer John Estes, whose work (an excerpt, to be exact) is featured below, lives in Canton, Ohio and directs the creative writing program at Malone University (at the time of publication). His chapbook entitled Swerve (2009) won a National Chapbook Fellowship.

Many thanks to Amy at The Poem Farm for hosting the Poetry Friday round-up!


The Universe is Your Country

It must be Simone Weil
who wrote, “Workers need poetry
more than bread.”
Sounds like her. But try
telling that to the workers,
who if they work at all
we classify as non-exempt,
who are not bought
but rather paid for over time.

There is a prophecy,
its authorship in question,
that goes: some day
poetry will be written
by machines for machines.
“Poetry is a kind of money,”
Wallace Stevens said,
but not the other way around.
My friend Andrew has worked 10
years for Panera Bread
as a night baker, shifting
frozen dough blobs
truck to oven to tray, meeting
the exacting standards you
the customer demand
in quick service pastries.
Ten years on the job
and he could not make a loaf
of bread to save himself.

2 Comments on [Poetry Friday] “The Universe is Your Country” by John Estes

  1. I’ve never liked Panera pastries, but I do like the deeper philosophy of this poem.

    Liked by 1 person

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