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  • A Prayer for the Precariat, and: Five Research Analysts on the Verge of Precarity at the Social Behavior Institute
  • Laura Sweeney (bio)

A Prayer for the Precariat

who resides in the academy, escapingcorporate life, reviving the dyingdialectic lost to the reality

of mediocre tv; while minionsand mortgagers make away with murdershe struggles to commit a social science;

displaced by recession-suppression-excessionretreats to the underground and scrawls “peace”on the whiteboards in adjunct hell; in the margins

without easy answers she wonders howshe missed the neon glaring signs; swearingshe’s not a pathetic-ascetic-heretic but in this

culture of division, an experimentgone awry, an indignation is like an elegyto the diseased elm tree, or a country

in precarity—an endless slammer, endlessbummer; and in this bastion of freedom, she isthe ars poetica, dancing in the hallways,

singing about the self-exiled, subsisting in America. [End Page 315]

Five Research Analysts on the Verge of Precarity at the Social Behavior Institute

were glorified factory workers,clocking in clocking out. We couldn’tsign our names without shaking while

the woman in the corner officegaslighted the truths we sleuthedin graduate school. But we resisted

kissing the sterling silver skeleton ring,panopticon red eye glaring. We chantedto the beat of the black sorority’s

cane dance: I am not your kiddo! Youare not entitled! We dolled up in redlipstick and wanderlust, discovered

the key to bust out of our slammer. Wehung Kabuki masks on our cubicle walls,spoke French, drank Portuguese wine.

And when we read books: the poetsof protest, the essayists, the female Beats,we vowed to one day write our truths

and call for a new paradigm. [End Page 317]

Laura Sweeney

Laura Sweeney facilitates Writers for Life in central Iowa. She represented the Iowa Arts Council at the First International Teaching Artist’s Conference in Oslo, Norway. Her recent poems appear in numerous journals. Her recent awards include a residency at Sundress Publication’s Firefly Farms, and an MFA scholarship to attend the 2019 Sewanee Writers’ Conference. She can be reached at



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pp. 315-317
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