The poem ‘what work is’ demonstrates the lack of awareness of people who claim that there is no job and different sorts of work that are currently available and others that are out of question. Philip Levine, the poet, says that anybody with the functionality of reading his poems understand has attained the appropriate age of working. The placing of the poem is in a park where there are several people, and there is no shelter as the persona says that they can sense the rain. The speaker is an ordinary job seeker who is currently waiting for a job probability while standing in a park with no shelter and being rained on. This persona saw an individual and thought that the person was his brother only to find that he was mistaken after wiping his glasses. The speaker then begins to think of the future where he will meet an employer who will turn him down saying “No, we’re not hiring today.” This individual then laments of not loving his brother.
The three different works defined by the speaker include a night shift at Cadillac, singing Wagner, and the job that he is waiting for at Ford Highland Park. The principal difference between these jobs is the probability of getting them and the places where they are conducted. The employment opportunity that the speaker eyes is tough to get. The similarity between these jobs is that they are all less paying as one has to incorporate two or more to get satisfied with the pay.
The speaker loves his brother but is reluctant to confess this love. However, this persona is envious of his brother’s job and hates the songs that he sings and is jealous of his achievements. The question that the speaker asks himself in the final section of the poem means that the persona regrets not treasuring the presence of his brother in his life.