Job Interview: Where do you see yourself in five years?

By Carrie Shipers

If I said “Dead” you’d want me to describe
the cause and circumstances, promise 
my demise is unrelated to my work, 
which I don’t know for sure. Most days 

I’m awake to my impending doom,
but the details remain dim. “In your seat” 
would sound arrogant and also isn’t true. 
I much prefer a cubicle to losing 

my weekends or leading folks like me. 
I may be surrounded by robots, but I bet 
they’ll need a human standing by in case 
they walk into a corner and get stuck, request 

a reboot to erase having learned their tasks 
are stupid and endless. Given you’re 
a decade my senior—or else really 
fatigued—“Retired” might offend 

by rubbing in you’re nowhere close. 
Too much focus on the future strikes me 
as futile. Once the apocalypse begins, 
we’ll probably all do things we can’t 

imagine now. If I asked you the same, 
I wonder if you’d have an answer prepared, 
be flattered someone cared, or if you’d 
be upset by goals you haven’t met. 

Experience suggests I’ll be performing 
this same show for a new audience,
either because the company’s at risk 
of shutting down, or because I’m so frustrated 

I can’t bear to stay. I’m tempted to say 
“Standing on the roof,” then allow 
an awkward pause before explaining
there’s also a DJ and champagne 

to help us celebrate my latest great idea, 
which I won’t reveal until after I’m hired. 
I wish this question had come sooner 
on your list. I don’t want the words

I leave you with to ruin our rapport, 
but the longer we sit here the more 
my vision narrows to the door, 
the relief I’ll feel when I walk out of it.

Carrie Shipers’s poems have appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, NewEnglandReview, NorthAmericanReview, PrairieSchooner, The Southern Review, and other journals. She is the author of Ordinary Mourning (ABZ, 2010), Cause for Concern (Able Muse, 2015), Family Resemblances (University of New Mexico, 2016), and Grief Land (University of New Mexico, 2020).

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