Editors Blog

April PAD Challenge: Day 25

A few times this month, I’ve felt like the forces working around my daily life are keeping track of my prompts (most of which I had set in stone before April started). For instance, I wasn’t able to get Day 13’s highlights up this morning (look for them on Monday), because my Clark Kent persona as a mild-mannered editor of Writer’s Market had some indexes to go over late last night. Sometimes work just gets in the way of having fun and saving the world, I guess.

Anyway, the reason that is relevant to today’s prompt is that we need to write an occupational poem today. You can write about your own occupation or that of another. Had a favorite job from the past? A least favorite job? A funny story from a job? Consider these questions before tackling your poem today.

Personally, I’ve held many jobs over the years, including baby-sitter, paperboy, bus boy, dishwasher, art gallery attendant, youth counselor for the City of Moraine, cashier, ice cream scooper, canvasser for a windows & siding company, night time stocker at a department store, and–being entrepreneurially inclined–I’ve had several odd jobs through the years as well. But I ultimately decided to write today’s poem based off my experience working at a car factory making struts one summer.

Here it goes:

“Waking up in the evening”

They brush their teeth and dress
before flocking to the parking lot
protected by barbed wire fencing
and a wide open gate. One by one,
they swipe their cards and move
though the turnstile, cross train
tracks and plug their ears against
the sound of metal on metal,
a cocoon to keep them safe from
the harsh realities of the situation:
While others sleep, they labor
over machines in a repetitive
thrum of this piece here affixed
to that piece there and move
it on to the next station and
back to this piece here affixed
to that piece there until a machine
breaks and throws off the units
for the day. Then, the foremen
shuffle around and fuss at them
to remind them they’re no better
than a machine. They defiantly
put up with the abuse until
it’s time to go home, driving
the against the traffic caused
by the others, the people
who sleep while they work.
When they get home, they
take showers and have trouble
getting themselves to sleep.

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174 thoughts on “April PAD Challenge: Day 25

  1. Lori

    "When I grow up I want to be…
    a lawyer, child psychologist,
    actress, teacher, billionaire".
    These were my thoughts as a child
    and I never thought I’d realize all,
    but the last one of course, in a
    completely different way than I ever imagined.
    As mother of seven I am often called upon to mediate and arbitrate, and often negotiate,
    as well as analyze, console, and diagnose.
    Many moments have been spent in pretend play
    and homeschooling for twelve years so far
    has fulfilled the desire to teach. And what
    could be better than teaching the children
    of your heart and soul. The ones you’d give
    your life for if ever it was required.
    The job of my dreams is realized, if only
    I stop to recognize everything I have.

  2. Jay Sizemore

    So far behind don’t know if it counts to finish now, but I am going to finish today anyway if I can. This is a poem about what happened to me at work this past Saturday.

    Derby Day 2008

    Disappointment left
    its bad taste in my mouth
    but I swallowed it down
    like poisonous medicine
    and drove to work
    determined to make
    the most out of
    the borrowed time
    I call existence.

    For once, I wasn’t hung over
    and the sunlight
    glistened through the windshield’s
    imperfections like cracks
    in the dimensional plane
    instead of knives
    stabbing into
    my dehydrated brain.

    The day was a white sheet
    draped over a rotting corpse.

    I was guilty
    of trying too hard
    to be the good guy,
    trying to wrestle down
    the thief of under garments
    and things taken for granted,
    but this panic eyed
    panther dressed in
    a gray t-shirt and black framed
    glasses was a sheer ball
    of twisted electrical wire
    and rubber bands.

    He disposed of me
    like a paper voodoo doll,
    centrifugal force carrying
    my head into the pavement
    and filling my eyes
    with blinding light,
    listening to his footfalls
    disappear
    while the silhouettes
    of passers by stopped
    to stare at my bare chest
    exposed.

    One shadow
    helped me to my feet,
    I noticed a surreal pool
    of my blood
    on the blacktop
    while reality continued
    to fade into stars
    and the spinning carousels
    of strangers’ voices.

    Next thing I knew,
    I was seeing the world
    through a darkened tunnel
    of echoes and figures,
    answering the questions
    of guardian angels,
    being strapped to
    an orange board
    and fed oxygen
    through a clear tube
    in my nose.

    When I was finally awake,
    awake and conscious,
    three hours were gone
    and four staples
    were in my skull,
    a sterile reminder
    of how precious
    the difference is
    between waking
    and not.

    The disappointment
    was gone.

  3. LindaTK

    Day 25
    Occupation Poem

    Teacher

    For thirty-eight years
    I spent quality time
    with nine to eleven year old children
    I do not regret even one nanosecond
    of that experience
    I prepared each lesson
    with care and precision
    Some went well
    Some didn’t
    I learned to know
    and understand
    each child
    I sincerely cared
    They knew that
    and cared back
    So many years
    So many kids
    So many experiences
    I didn’t realize wealth
    in greenbacks
    I did experience wealth
    in having touched the lives
    of many children
    and the children having
    touched mine
    It was a labor of love

  4. Carol A Stephen

    Paperless Society

    Computers were going to do away
    with paper and printed copies.

    Computers were going to make
    life at work so much easier.

    Type a report.
    Send to print.

    Print queue is down.
    Resend job to the next queue.

    Wait. Wait. Wait.
    Printer is out of paper.

    Refill paper tray.
    Start. Stop. Clear jam.

    Start. Stop. Clear jam.
    Return to desk.

    Kill job.
    Restrain self from killing printer.

    Another carefree day at the office.
    In the paperless society.

    There is no paper.
    It is all jammed in the printer.

  5. Amanda Caldwell

    Nursing home kitchen

    Maroon slop on a plastic tray
    — is this a fitting last meal?

    Dingy white polo shirts
    that I’ll never touch again
    once this summer is through,
    splattered navy Dockers,
    fitted to the dress code.

    The sour, warm smell
    of pureed cauliflower, beets,
    and cabbage, spooned
    without finesse
    in assembly fashion.

    Fans sluggish to clear
    the steamy heat
    of a summer spent
    in a kitchen.

    Fellow high schoolers
    joking about joints,
    planning weekend parties,
    impervious to aging.

    I slip into the storeroom,
    fill a Styrofoam cup
    with croutons and ranch dressing,
    and eat in private
    the only good thing I can find.

    I hide from the coworkers,
    and I hide from the sightless eyes,
    the hundreds of souls
    in the rooms above.

    Our trays go off the line,
    into caddies, and out to the hall,
    up in the elevators,
    up to the nurses and aides.

    When they return,
    I spray them clean and splash
    filthy water on once-white sneakers,
    some purees gone and some only sampled,
    the only clues of continued existence.

  6. M. Schied

    Keeper of the books

    That’s what they used to call me
    the maven of literature
    the warden of writing
    the protector of the shelves

    but now there’s more:

    teacher
    writer
    copier
    researcher
    planner
    artist
    actress
    storyteller
    collector
    cataloger
    facilitator
    mediator
    thinker
    dreamer
    manager
    collaborator
    idea-generator
    problem solver
    monitor
    and even Minotaur if need be

    but I still prefer, librarian

  7. Barbara Torke

    oem 25 Occupied

    Occupied at pulling the grass
    From around my iris
    I slip into a reverie
    That occupies my mind
    My occupation has never been
    My occupation per se
    Perhaps an avocation of painting
    Portraits of my children
    A chef designing
    Meals to make a family of six cheer
    Or was it governess?
    I logged on as a commercial artist one time
    Prices for hotdogs for my uncle’s grocery store
    Everyone should work as a waitress
    It teaches humility
    And pride
    And manners
    And generosity
    I know a tipper’s past
    By his generous wallet
    Teaching school is not an occupation
    Years of bending twigs mixing tempera
    Leading to a life time
    Halting warriors in malls and restaurants
    Not a well paid course of action
    Although career realignment
    And retirement carry me on…
    Or the occupation of a house big enough
    To clean since the
    Occupation of laundress fits well
    And as I pull and grub in the dirt
    Wiping my nose with the back of my glove
    I remember
    I love the smell of laundry and sunshine
    Enchiladas made with my own tortillas
    The collage of my grand-daughter
    On her first day of college
    Enthusiasm of pink clad
    knobby kneed first graders
    framed artwork of a third grader
    the waitress who bears with my obnoxious friend
    A clean garden
    Lavender blue flags and tulips
    When the deer resign
    Their job of trimming
    And the wind retires
    To the east
    And the sun occupies the clear sky
    And I work here

  8. Sarah

    I am a stay at home mom, so I chose a humorous story…

    I was working in the kitchen
    when I heard a loud noise
    and went racing from the room to find
    the imagination of my kids ran wild
    for pretending they were in Neverland
    my son took his happy thought to heart
    as down the staircase he did fly
    but instead of rising to the sky
    he landed with a thud!

  9. A.C. Leming

    This was first posted on day 29…when I finally caught up.

    Clean Room

    We suit up and stagger into the clean room —
    a climate controlled fishbowl of a room
    ensconced between the plating department
    before us and the one behind us.

    That first department almost blew us up
    one night — we saw the supervisor’s flat
    out run, hands frantically waving, a silent
    “NO!” being screamed beyond the glass

    as he stopped the none too bright new hire
    from dumping fifty pounds of the wrong
    chemical into a bath which would have sent
    all of us through the cinder block walls and

    mesh-reinforced safety windows.

  10. KP

    My First Summer Job

    When I turn in the application, the young guy says I can start Wednesday.
    I am pretty excited.
    On Wednesday I show up on time,
    That same guy shows me the kitchen.
    Where the chips are
    Where the cheese is
    Where the drinks are
    He says sit down at the table where everyone is wrapping silverware and wait
    I wait, and wait.
    They speak Spanish.
    I don’t know what they’re saying.
    I wait, and wait.
    They wrap silverware.
    Should I be wrapping silverware?
    No one told me to wrap silverware.
    I wait, and wait.
    Has this job started yet?
    Where’d that guy go?
    I wait, and wait.
    How come I’m not filling out any paperwork?
    I wait, and wait.
    Then I get up and go.
    That guy is at the front counter.
    I tell him I’m leaving.
    He asks for my phone number.
    Do I want to go on a date?
    No.
    He made me wait, and wait, and wait.
    Hasta la vista, first job!

  11. Charlene, Age 10

    Being Cute

    My occupation is
    To be a daughter
    A cute daughter
    That is "awwe"-inspiring

    I play video games,
    I sing and dance,
    And I play with friends

    I have fun with animals
    Watch Meerkat Manor
    And fall in love with animated characters

    That is my occupation

  12. Yoli

    Receptionist

    Weariness is dragging me down
    I look around.
    Unaware
    Are all the faces that stare
    Blankly at me.
    Invisibly
    I stare back
    I hope he doesn’t thing I was watching him like that.
    He just happened to be in my line of sight.
    Above me bulbs are bright
    Like a spotlight
    As if I’m on display
    Like a mannequin styled
    With a plastic smile
    For everyone walking my way.
    I’m the first thing
    Sitting wearily seen
    When coming through the door.
    Who could ask for more?
    In my display case
    Beside the large vase
    Of massive flowers.
    For hours
    I sit and smile.
    And after a while
    I wilt.
    The silk greenery
    Is doing so much better than me
    And I’m filled with guilt.
    For hating those damn-d flowers.
    Because I look at them for endless hours.
    Yet they don’t look as tired or defeated.
    By this time I’ve retreated
    To my computer screen
    And as everyone stands around to gaze
    And touch with amaze
    At their real-lifeness
    I’m lifeless
    Behind the desk unseen.
    “Goodnight, all,” I whisper softly
    Full-heartedly
    Waiting alone
    For the moment I can be home
    In comforted bliss
    And give in to my weariness.

  13. Lorien Vidal

    From the days of pre-historic, digit-punched, hand-written dispatch tickets, before the advent of Nextel and Resey-Soft this is my stint at a black-car service for corporate Manhattan:

    Live Call

    …On a three-six
    – Open!
    – Second!
    – Final!
    …Anybody, FINAL CALL!?

    Make it a forty-minute delay
    Not making any reservations
    In this dreadful occupation
    There are no cars on the road
    And the "appointments" are quite a load
    …Of B.S.

    What a mess!

    "Where’s my car, Loreal?"
    It’s Lori-EN,
    (you drunken hen)
    "I know, but you’re worth it, baby."
    Well, don’t I know it!
    Though my paycheck doesn’t show it…

  14. Justin M. Howe

    Security Blanket

    A decade ago I took a
    ‘get me through college’ job
    It was a good job
    Secure, like a good blanket
    A decade later
    I’m still there
    Granted, the company has
    promoted me
    relocated me
    Made a ‘career man’ out of me
    But how much longer can I sustain it?
    When it doesn’t seem to pay the bills
    Doesn’t offer the promise it once did
    Can I turn away now?
    Leave it all behind?
    What exactly would I be leaving again?
    I think I’ve outgrown my security blanket.

    -Justin M. Howe

  15. Sara Diane Doyle

    Not one of my better attemps, but I’m behind and have more poems to write, so I won’t lament one or two poor offerings! Here is one of my many jobs that I currently work…

    Nursery

    Parents shake their heads
    in amazement as ten tiny bodies
    sink into chairs—quiet, waiting
    for crackers. Little voices
    offer please and thank you.
    These toddlers rarely need
    reprimands, a look will stop
    them cold, turn them
    from intended crimes.
    “How do you keep it so calm?”
    the parents ask.
    “How do you get them to sit,
    to talk, to apologize for misbehaving?”
    I chalk it up to adoration
    and the classical music in the background.
    My secret would only tease—
    My classroom is so peaceful
    because at the end of the day
    I send the children to their parents
    and I go home alone.

  16. Sara Diane Doyle

    Not one of my better attemps, but I’m behind and have more poems to write, so I won’t lament one or two poor offerings! Here is one of my many jobs that I currently work…

    Nursery

    Parents shake their heads
    in amazement as ten tiny bodies
    sink into chairs—quiet, waiting
    for crackers. Little voices
    offer please and thank you.
    These toddlers rarely need
    reprimands, a look will stop
    them cold, turn them
    from intended crimes.
    “How do you keep it so calm?”
    the parents ask.
    “How do you get them to sit,
    to talk, to apologize for misbehaving?”
    I chalk it up to adoration
    and the classical music in the background.
    My secret would only tease—
    My classroom is so peaceful
    because at the end of the day
    I send the children to their parents
    and I go home alone.

  17. M. Schied

    Keeper of the books

    That’s what they used to call me
    the maven of literature
    the warden of writing
    the protector of the shelves

    but now there’s more:

    teacher
    writer
    copier
    researcher
    planner
    artist
    actress
    storyteller
    collector
    cataloger
    facilitator
    mediator
    thinker
    dreamer
    manager
    collaborator
    idea-generator
    problem solver
    monitor
    and even Minotaur if need be

    but I still prefer, librarian

  18. Lin Neiswender

    Land of Dinosaurs

    Open folder
    Remove card
    Insert in reader
    Press button
    Damn
    It jammed
    Press release
    Remove card
    Straighten card
    Reinsert card
    Press button
    Card reads
    Do it again
    Reinsert in folder
    Close folder
    Place on pile
    Repeat for eight mind-numbing hours

    Your hands ache and the cards
    Have sliced cuticles to ribbons
    Back aches from time in rickety chair
    Shoulder sore form pushing and pulling cards
    But the day is over so that’s a pluACs
    Only it starts all over again tomorrow
    Return to land of the dinosaurs

  19. Rosemary Nissen-Wade

    Seems I forgot to actually post my piece here after writing it! Sorry, and here it is now.

    The Psychic Reader

    I sit in Murwillumbah Market.
    It’s cold in the big pavilion
    though people tell us
    it’s already hot outside.

    We’ve had the free cup of coffee
    that only this market provides.
    We’ve eaten our second breakfast –
    a packed lunch scoffed early
    before the customers come.
    On a good day I’ll be too busy
    for any more mouthfuls after 10.

    Andrew’s been and bought
    our supply of organic veggies.
    Patsy, who always sees me here,
    has had her reading early, as she does.
    She brought us each a gardenia.
    Mine’s on my table, to the side;
    the scent wafts up to me. Patsy said,
    "It’ll keep you happy all day," and it does.

    My crystal ball is filled with
    inclusions and patches of rainbows.
    As big as a baby’s head,
    it sits on a silk scarf in a basket.
    "You can’t read with that!" a passer-by
    says loudly, "It isn’t clear."
    I only smile. "You mean that you can’t,"
    I think but don’t bother to say.

    I find my chocolate biscuit.
    It’s 10 to 10; the customers begin.
    Two and a half hours later
    there’s a lull. The autumn sun
    is clear and bright in the doors and windows
    of the pavilion. The crowds thin
    and we are left with big empty spaces
    all down the middle of the stalls.
    A sudden breeze blows my sign over.
    I put my watch back on and start to pack.

    © Rosemary Nissen-Wade 2008

  20. Laural

    When your job
    Looks like a cakewalk
    To your friends
    You feel stupid.

    You spend so many hours
    Struggling with old books
    Searching for new articles
    Picking the exact drawing
    Preparing for that one hour
    Of class meeting

    You spend so many minutes
    Providing love and Kleenex
    Holding hands and
    Picking up pieces
    When sisters and mothers
    Fathers and brothers
    Boyfriends and girlfriends
    Suffer far away

    You spend so many weeks
    Worrying about the best future
    Fitting today to tomorrow
    Like mending shoes on a last
    That doesn’t quite fit
    But almost…close enough.
    Putting forward best plans that
    Time and money can buy
    For your adopted students.

    You come home exhausted
    From this fluffy job
    Both physically and
    Emotionally.
    You must be a fool
    To make a simple job
    Into a Sisyphean
    Climb.

  21. Tonya Root

    I Work in Construction

    I chose a field mostly dominated
    by men. When I was a little girl
    I got along better with the boys.
    No surprise, I guess – my mother
    was a truck driver.

  22. Terri

    A Day in the Life. . .

    A turkey melt? On wheat or white?
    Chips? We got BBQ, Sour Cream and Onion, Baked or Plain;
    You need cream and sugar with that coffee?
    No, I don’t think the potato salad has onions;
    You say BLT, hold the L and T?
    Smile, Smile, Smile.

    Thank you, come again;
    Thanks for trashing the table,
    Thanks for throwing the plastic sandwich basket away,
    No, I don’t mind fishing them out;
    Thanks for no tip not even a "have a nice day!"

    This is what I went to college for?
    Shake it off
    Smile, Smile, Smile

  23. IleanaCarmina

    S.E. – oooh! Really loved that picture you’ve painted in my mind and the nice ending statement.

    Pushing Back the Cubicles

    When tent cities are erected
    Downtown
    There is a hue and cry to tear
    Them down
    But in the workplace
    It’s okay
    To live in a box nearly
    All day
    Amongst flimsy carpet walls like
    Cardboard
    Hung with flowcharts, full of candy
    Our hoard
    Helping us meet deadlines we didn’t
    Decide
    On, that have no meaning on the
    Outside
    Just things to keep track of
    Our time
    Not unlike bags on a shopping cart
    You’ll find
    Parked next to that tent city

    We are the displaced
    Of the workplace

  24. Robin Morris

    I am allowed to go to the bathroom
    after awakening in the morning.
    He will strop around the sink and my legs
    very patient really, waiting for his breakfast.

    The job is only difficult on days like this: rain
    pouring down is, of course, my fault,
    and my apologies do not bring sunshine,
    so wet fur seeks the blanket,
    luring me in to help bring warmth.

    It is my job, after all, to rev the purr
    motor up loud as it can go.

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