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August 20, 2006|By TED KOOSER | TED KOOSER,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Those who survived the Great Depression of the 1930s have a tough, no-nonsense take on what work is. If when I was young I'd told my father I was looking for fulfilling work, he would have looked at me as if I'd just arrived from Mars. Here the Pennsylvania poet Jan Beatty takes on the voice of her father to illustrate the thinking of a generation of Americans. -- Ted Kooser

"My Father Teaches Me to Dream"

You want to know what work is?

I'll tell you what work is:

Work is work.

You get up. You get on the bus.

You don't look from side to side.

You keep your eyes straight ahead.

That way nobody bothers you -- see?

You get off the bus. You work all day.

You get back on the bus at night. Same thing.

You go to sleep. You get up.

You do the same thing again.

Nothing more. Nothing less.

There's no handouts in this life.

All this other stuff you're looking for --

it ain't there.

Work is work.

Ted Kooser was U.S. poet laureate, 2004-2006. First printed in Witness, Volume 10, No. 2. Copyright 1996 by Jan Beatty; reprinted by permission of the author.

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