Sonnet Where I Should Have Learned a Trade

Levi Rubeck

“Earn while you learn” got my brother away
from brake pads caked with ancient asbestos
and into a life of windswept wires.
I hear unionized adjuncts have my grad

school poetry professors cold sweating—
those soft candles now scramble to secure
their chipped brownstones, so we should wind lines to
chime like a whetstone on the guillotine.

They’re all magpies with minor tinnitus
who dream of closing on their own cage—“lock
me into a fixed, lonely interest rate.
Teach me to salt my bonds, to grind pepper

over financial products too pulpy
to wall off the slowly swelling river.