Published on Academy of American Poets (

work: an ode for the human micropoem*

one has to have
a reason for living
a guiding philosophy
a purpose
a goal

the best way
to communicate
an idea
is to act it out

no work
no eat

i want to have something to say
about my own destiny
something i care about
something of value
something important

*Coda: The Human Micropoem is a call and response choral form. It amplifies the speaker’s words by those listening. The poet says a line aloud and then everyone repeats it. Micropoeming was collectively devised by Chicago writers during the Occupy Movement of 2011. We continue to perform together in public spaces and hold the words of others in our mouths.


Copyright © 2021 by Jennifer Karmin. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 20, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“My ongoing project -Democracy Lessens- Democracy Lessons is an act of literary citizenship that manifests poetry where it is not expected and often overlooked. I am most interested in poems that can be simultaneously experimental and inclusive. Solidarity over hierarchy. We know that working people experiment every day to manage our lives. Paying our rent, feeding our families, and navigating the healthcare system all take a lot of innovation.”
—Jennifer Karmin


Jennifer Karmin

Jennifer Karmin’s books include Aaaaaaaaaaalice (Flim Forum Press, 2010) and The Sexual Organs of the IRS (Convulsive Editions, 2016), a collaboration with Bernadette Mayer.

Date Published: 2021-08-20

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