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.

  25. Susan Reichert

    ALLDAY

    All day every day
    I do the same things
    I use this computer
    and punch in the
    names, dates, numbers
    and tab it and save it
    I do one thousand of
    these day in and day
    out but only five
    days a week. ONLY!

    Susan
    April 25
    Day 25

  26. ck

    (Day 25 post)

    Jazz Singer

    She sings in a smokeless club these days,
    not like the old days.
    She’s wistful for the old days,
    of singing with
    cigarette
    martini
    scotch
    heavy red lipstick
    form-fitting dress
    lowered eyes
    cool trumpet.
    Well, yes,
    still the martini or scotch,
    still the lipstick and dress,
    still lowered eyes and dark light.
    But now everyone steps outside
    For a smoke while the singer sings,
    while the trumpet blows a cool tune
    back in the smokeless club.

  27. S.E. Ingraham

    Mannequin Modelling

    As long as I found something on which to focus
    Something fixed, something on the turntable with us
    And also steadied my stance in whatever happened to be that hour’s pose
    Solidly
    I was good
    It was do-able
    Twenty minutes per hour
    Still as a statue
    Breathing so shallowly as to appear not breathing
    Along with four other flesh and blood statues
    Just so
    It was oddly thrilling
    To be the centre of so much fascinated speculation
    As our strange fashionista tableaux
    Spun slowly in the middle of the shopping mall
    Variations on a theme were heard in snatches
    “They look so real –“
    “They’re real you know –“
    “They’re not real-“
    “Hey – I saw that one move – “
    And apropos of nothing, one of us would wink
    Making someone doubt their sanity
    My father couldn’t bear to look at me
    He told my mother,
    “I just can’t stand it – she looks dead!”
    I guess that was the ultimate compliment really
    I cannot think of anything more inert than a corpse
    I used to wonder what Madam Tussaud would have thought of us
    Especially when we stopped for breaks
    And stepped back into life; that never failed to make us feel more real than before
    I guess pretending to be dead will do that to you.

    S.E.Ingraham

  28. Sally DiUlus

    APRIL PAD Challenge Day 25 Poetic Asides “Occupational poem” posted on April 28, 2008 12:12 a.m.
    PAD #25

    Super-Duper One of a Kind Child Development Specialist©
    April 25, 2008

    Peter Pan had a great occupation
    He flew through the skies with Wendy
    And took care of lost boys
    Is my occupation like his?
    I fly through the day with the balancing act–ease
    Feeling a bit like I’m on a flying Trapeze.

    Peter Rabbit had a great occupation
    What was his gig?
    He ran everywhere he went
    Staying in shape
    Never wanting to be late
    I do believe my occupation is a bit like his.

    Peter Pan, Peter Rabbit,
    Yes, my occupation is a bit like theirs
    I am constantly running hither and yon
    And in the break time I write poems and stories and laugh and chortle and giggle and dance!!!
    My occupation is paying attention to all the details,
    Being available in a given moment,
    Maintaining foundation-ship
    Checking my watch, checking it twice
    Roll with the punches, smile and be nice!
    A super-duper One of a Kind Child Development Specialist! WaHoo!
    Sally DiUlus sdiulus@cefe.org

  29. k weber

    may i help you remember me

    i remember
    being 17
    and steve
    and steve
    in red
    in white
    and how one
    would flip
    me and my apron
    upside-down
    by the submarine
    sandwich station

    someone
    had a round, young
    face and a pink
    smile which made
    me fall
    in first-job
    love and maybe
    all the men
    had mustaches
    and mullets

    i remember
    one guy
    spit tobacco
    into a customer’s
    pizza sometime
    after i baked
    my blue
    ring
    into a ham-
    and-cheese

    someone was busted
    for drugs; another
    left his 40oz
    in the bushes
    when he went
    on break
    and never came
    back
    to wash dishes
    in the sanitizer
    that made
    my hands
    itch

    two managers
    slept together
    off the clock
    and had a baby
    after i left
    and all the thoughts
    of my days
    working
    with sauce
    and pepperoni
    and brightly-
    colored characters
    became hazy

  30. Judy Roney

    I’m retired
    don’t have to get up in the mornings
    until I want to
    I generally want to about the same time
    I always did

    I’m retired
    I don’t have to do a thing
    leisure is my middle name
    I’m not sure why I am busier
    now than when I worked nine to five
    and raised my family.

    I’m retired
    life is good
    because what I do is what I choose to do
    even if it is to get up at six and stay busy
    from nine to five.

  31. lyn

    choosing to join the carnival
    defies the logic of fortune
    "a quarter a throw, five for a dollar"
    games of chance and questionable skill
    the carnie travel to small towns and villages
    hitting the road about mid-June
    towing thrill rides, the caravan follows
    the scent of coins and bills
    drawn to the midway by lights and music
    tempt with funnel cakes and french fries
    visitors drop spare change to street performers and fortune tellers
    the carnie leaves behind the guinea pick wheel of work
    to step into the fantasy world of perpetual fun
    it’s hard, dusty, sometimes long, tedious work
    but priceless to grant the public a peek
    into our world of dreams
    where sure aim wins a teddy bear

  32. Linda Hofke

    I think I am losing it. Reconstruction was in another prompt, I believe. Well, anyway, whoever wrote it, it was good.

    Debra Elliott and Jane Penland Hoover,just got around to reading thru the poems again. Debra, yours is so true! And you’ve said it with fewer words than I could have managed. Jane, your poem expresses a lot of feeling without being sappy. Very well-written.

    There are so many good pieces of work in this challenge. Robert could make a book with this stuff. I could read these poems over and over again. Someday I hope to write as well as everyone here.

  33. Linda Hofke

    UGHH! In above poem it should read stone-faced, not stone face. Can you believe I was once a secretary? Terrible typing skill today.

    Oh, Callan, I also enjoyed your poem SCAR. Had me laughing and feeling sorry for you all at once.

  34. Cheryl Wray

    Sheesh…the weekends knock me out and I have to play catch-up with the prompts. Here is my take on the "job" poem.

    "Book Stacker"

    In college,
    I stacked books
    for extra
    (gas, ramen noodles, weekend party supplies)
    money

    in the campus library,
    where the smell was musty,
    yet invigorating…
    like the heady, imminent feeling in the air
    before a thunderstorm.

    My co-workers complained of the
    boredom,
    the backaches, and
    the insufferable running together of
    dewey’s numbers with
    shakespearedickinsondavincifreud

    (I wondered if any of them had ever read a book for fun, or what they were doing in college in the first place)

    how could they complain?
    how could they they miss
    the epiphanies gained
    in silence,
    while hoisting books to their
    homes on the shelves.

  35. Linda Hofke

    Corrected version. (Sorry!)

    The New Guy in the Electrical Department

    When I poured my morning coffee
    and greeted him,
    he responded with nothing more
    than the look of a glazed donut.
    I wanted to mumble,
    "Hello, electro-dude!
    Push the power button
    to your brain because
    the lights are on
    but nobody’s home."
    But I remained silent.

    When he approached me
    in the parking lot,
    asked me a question
    and then stared incessantly
    after my answer
    as if he’d short-circuited,
    I could have remarked,
    "Hey, buddy. Got your
    wires crossed today?"
    But instead I said,
    "Gotta’ run. Have a
    nice weekend."

    When I passed him,
    isolated in a corner
    of the assembly room
    gazing down at a manual,
    he let out a euphoric chuckle
    then suddenly went stone-face again.
    I wanted to ask if he had
    a switch installed in his mind
    that reminded him of humorous events,
    but I realized it wasn’t that kind of laugh.
    This one ran on a different line.
    So I held my tongue.

    When at 2PM he hastily informed
    his boss that he had an
    important appointment
    and must leave immediately,
    then strolled outside,
    stretching on the loading dock
    as if doing aquatic gymnastics
    on dry land for 20 minutes,
    then came back in to work
    as if nothing had ever happened,
    I wanted to yell,
    "Yo, weirdo! I think
    you’d better check the voltage."
    But I didn’t because he’s
    frightening.
    Rumor has it, his work of late is,
    well, like himself…sketchy.
    I can only hope management
    pulls the plug on his employment
    before he blows a fuse,
    because he is somehow
    not
    connected
    properly.
    Somebody send him in
    for repairs.
    PLEASE!

  36. Linda Hofke

    Wow! This prompt really produced some great poems. Robert will, once again, have a difficult time picking his favorites. Though they were all great I must say:

    Patti Wiliams and Ian…great job as always.
    LBC and Diane…you did a great job!
    Terri Coyne…that sounds like a fun job.
    Bonnie…that sounds like a difficult but rewarding job.
    Justin….sad but touching.
    Arg…I liked Reconstruction.

    Great job everyone!

    When I saw the prompt I knew I had to write about the new guy at work. He started out okay the first month, quiet but seemed qualified, and then it went down hill. Acts really strange and not doing good work anymore. I am now wondering what medication he is forgetting to take and am relieved he is not in my department!! Here it is:

    The New Guy in the Electrical Department

    When I poured my morning coffee
    and greeted him,
    he responded with nothing more
    than the look of a glazed donut.
    I wanted to mumble,
    "Hello, electro-dude!
    Push the power button
    to your brain because
    the lights are on
    but nobody’s home."
    But I remained silent.

    When he approached me
    in the parking lot,
    asked me a question
    and then stared incessantly
    after my answer
    as if he’d short-circuited,
    I could have remarked,
    "Hey, buddy. Got your
    wires crossed today?"
    But instead I said,
    "Gotta’ run. Have a
    nice weekend."

    When I passed him,
    isolated in a corner
    of the assembly room
    gazing down at a manual,
    he let out a euphoric chuckle
    then suddenly went stone-face again.
    I wanted to ask if he had
    a relay installed in his mind
    that reminded him of humorous events,
    but I realized it wasn’t that kind of laugh.
    This one ran on a different line.
    So I held my tongue.

    When at 2PM he hastily informed
    his boss that he had an
    important appointment
    and must leave immediately,
    then strolled outside,
    stretching on the loading dock
    as if doing aquatic gymnastics
    on dry land for 20 minutes,
    then coming back in to work
    as if nothing had ever happened,
    I wanted to yell,
    "Yo, weirdo! I think
    you’d better check the voltage."
    But I didn’t because he’s
    frightening.
    Rumor has it, his work of late is,
    well, like himself…sketchy.
    I can only hope management
    pulls the plug on his employment
    before he blows a fuse,
    because he is somehow not
    connected properly.
    Somebody send him in
    for repairs.
    PLEASE!

    Defomo

  37. Susan M. Bell

    Occupational Hazard

    Standing in one place
    Hour after hour
    Day after day
    Listening to the same voice
    in my ear
    Telling me he knows
    He knows what women want
    He knows what women need

    Using the same air gun to
    tighten the same bolt
    His voice cutting through
    the loud roar
    of tools
    and machines

    How far down his throat
    can an air gun go?

    Let’s see.

  38. Darla Smith

    MY DAILY ROUTINE

    I get up early each morning,
    and light up my first cigarette.
    I grab a cup of black coffee,
    then sit and watch some MTV.
    Once I’m finally fully awake,
    I go check  out my email.
    I delete all the useless junk,
    then answer a few replies.
    I work on the word challenges,
    and post them onto the group site.
    Then later on in the afternoon,
    I get busy doing my household chores.
    After that I fix our evening meal,
    and eat supper with my family.
    Then I sit out on my front porch,
    and try to relax for a little while.
    I go back inside after dark,
    and read for a couple of hours.
    After taking a long hot shower,
    I go to bed and fall fast asleep.

  39. Marcus Smith

    Robert – sorry about the jumbled poem just before this note – the poem was actually typed in the form of a "Z" but didn’t end up that way when saved – won’t try that again! It’s been a great month, writing every day has been fantastic – thanks!!!

  40. Marcus Smith

    "Ziggy and the summer job"

    It was the summer of "73, right after my
    high school freshman year and I took a job
    at L.A. Lithograph feeding printed pages
    into a noisy machine that eventually spit
    out shiny new TV Guides. I worked hard for
    two months saving every dollar and went to
    Sears – no Circuit City or Best Buy back
    then – and scored a powerful high fidelity
    stereo system and my very first album,
    "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and
    The Spiders from Mars." The back of the
    album cover contained a note,
    "Play at Maximum Volume" so I
    did and not even 5 seconds
    into the first cut my father
    appeared in the doorway and
    after directing me to turn
    the stereo down he demanded
    that I tell him where I got
    it. My summer job… I said
    I told you to save the money for
    college he replied and that…
    music! he drew out the vowels
    as he said the last word. The
    next two hours seemed like an
    eternity but my father finally left for
    his night job. I dropped Ziggy back onto
    the turntable, turned the volume knob all
    the way to the right and falling backwards onto my bed I smiled and knew the last two months of hard work were worth it. I’ve
    got lots to do over the next three years
    I said to myself, and this stereo will be
    with me every step of the way…"and Ziggy
    played…guitar!"

  41. Gratia Karmes

    FEATHERBEDDING

    She has long silky hair
    A space between her teeth
    like Lauren Hutton
    And bright brown eyes.

    She tells me how alone she’s been
    her husband took off when the third child
    surprised them both.

    Her factory job is
    forty miles away, the car
    always needs something done.

    Her mother died
    no warning, just died.
    She describes the day with eyes
    steady, voice calm
    but she is watching my
    own eyes fill.

    The new man seemed
    a godsend; helped with the
    broken sink, helped with the
    angry children helped with the
    emptiness.

    And then he went back to
    his best job
    selling drugs. He’s gone now. "That was all
    I needed to know" she says. "I told him, Take
    your shit and don’t ever let me see you
    here again."

    The same calm voice.

    This time, she is watching
    me
    compare myself to her.
    My job is to help her find strength
    to go on.

    Sometimes, it’s the easiest job
    in the world.

  42. VS Bryant

    4/25/08 –

    The Daily Grind

    Every day I wake to yet another day to start the daily grind
    I got to work to my 9 to 5 and wonder if this is the end of the line
    Although I love what I do, my heart is crying out for more
    Is this the place I’m supposed to be or is the sky higher then I can see
    Will I wake ten years from now and cry because I couldn’t achieve
    Or will ten years bring love and pride for I have journeyed far and wide
    Every day I wake to yet another day to start the daily grind
    Happy am I to be able to push the line with determination and a whole lot of pride

  43. Jolanta Laurinaitis

    I noticed there are many poem on teaching, but being one myself, I could not possibly think to write anything else apart from what I live to do and love to do… So I think my poem will probably fade behind some of the other teacher poems… But I love a challenge!

    Teacher – What do you make?

    I make children try
    I make children laugh
    I make children believe
    In themselves and in others

    I make children love
    I make children hate
    I make children see
    The beauty in life

    I make children honest
    I make children express
    I make children ashamed
    Of effortless attempts

    I make children feel
    I make children want
    I make children fly
    Beyond all expectations

    I make children think
    I make children care
    I make children want
    To be the best they can

    I make barely enough
    I make less than most professionals
    I make no savings
    Save my love for the children
    So what did you make this week?

  44. Cathy Sapunor

    Our Young Friend, Ed

    This is the job that Ed has:
    putting bodies in bags, then onto gurneys
    and then wheeling them down, and out, to load
    into the mortuary truck.
    The care he takes! even when next of kin are
    not looking, Ed handles his clients with
    a steady hand and a learned degree of grace.
    Except for his first week, when the rolling cart grazed a family’s plastered hallway walls. A good time, we agreed, to incur property damage because a dinged up door
    doesn’t seem like much when Mother’s laying dead on a stretcher.
    Ed is genuinely sad when a stranger dies, he says, and relatives of the deceased sense this, and
    clasp his hands as if old friends when
    they see him standing, suited up and too young to look so grave, on funeral day.
    Ed loves his job better than any he’s had in his
    22 years, even though he only took it to
    pay his living expenses and be able to act
    in local theater at night. We’ve seen him on stage; he is quite good.
    Ed thinks the memorials business might be the right
    future for him, because employment as an actor is hard to get and he likes his job: the bereavement and grieving and consolation—it’s all honest and raw.
    After college, he might undertake an apprenticeship.
    Curtain calls, house calls, whatever.
    Ed is just happy.

  45. AlaskanRC

    ~Stable Hand~

    Horses are neighing
    in the barn. The sun has yet to rise.
    Hooves beat upon solid doors.
    Young ones are anxious
    for their morning run,
    in the field.
    One by one I lead them
    to the pastures.
    After their run, it’s time
    to eat and bask in the sun.

    The thick sent of
    manure fills the barn
    along with the comforting
    and distinct smell of horse.
    I always feel at easy.
    Twelve stalls to muck
    and fill with fresh shavings.
    A sweaty task ahead,
    hours later the task is done.

    I head to the box stall
    near the back of the barn.
    Legacy sticks her head above the door
    as she hears my approach.
    Ears pricked she gazes at me
    with inquisitive kind eyes.
    I slip in through the door
    and rest my hand on her shoulder
    as I halter her.

    She nickers softly as
    I put her in the cross ties.
    Grasping a soft brush
    I begin to run it across her
    velvet coat in long soft strokes.
    Her belly is extended and her time is
    near. Close attention must be paid
    over the coming days for a mother
    she will soon be.

    Safely back in her stall off to the
    tack room I head. Bits, bridles, and saddles
    to clean. By the time I’m done
    the others are ready to be brought in and fed.
    Then tomorrow morning
    it all begins again.

  46. Bonnie MacAllister

    Professionals

    I spent five years encoded in analog displays,
    Green and white screens suggesting images.
    One bar was always mute but functional.
    The sounds would swipe by in high-pitched registers.

    Were I to plot the transition,
    I would chose a beginning and an endpoint,
    Enter the code and wait for the time to render.
    A lucky layer of text or speech would set.

    At times, I would prefer this soundproof booth
    To the rest of the museum, to the drum of the public,
    Their steps hard on the marble where I would hide
    The light panels, an extension cord, myself.

    Sometimes the hours would exceed sixteen,
    Or the documentary would never resume,
    But I knew the footage was unreleased
    And forever in my editing console.

  47. Alfred J Bruey

    In the Bakery (#25)

    The job was in a bakery
    and the first thing I learned
    was how to break two eggs into
    a bowl, one egg in each hand
    without getting any on myself
    and the second thing I learned
    was from an old-timer named
    "Peanuts" who told me that
    I’d never be a great baker
    unless I learned to chew
    tobacco, which I never did,
    and the next thing I had
    to learn was how to make
    rolls and pop them in the
    oven and then I’d have to
    leave and go to school
    because it was 8:00 a.m.
    and I was in the 6th grade
    and I realize that now no one
    in 6th grade would be able
    to work from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.
    every school day but many things
    were different back then,
    very, very different.

  48. Devon Brenner

    At the Highland Beach Inn

    They had a taco night on Tuesdays,
    three-for-two-dollars,
    a Friday night fish-fry
    and a salad bar with variety—
    both potato and cold macaroni.
    Behind the tall counter,
    Dick pulled glasses of Coors Light
    for men with nails in the pockets of their Carharts.
    while Betty took orders from mamas
    in tank tops with their bra straps showing.
    I never did get good at serving
    at the Highland Beach Inn
    always forgetting the bottle of A-1 and
    too slow with the Coke refills,
    never could make exact change,
    but I learned a lot that summer,
    how to clean a coffee urn with salt and a squeeze of lemon,
    how to steer clear of truckers and their leering compliments
    how to find a poem in another order of smelt.

  49. Essa Bostone

    My music ate me up this week with gigs and concerts, so this is late, but I am determined. 30 poems or bust.
    here’s the

    Prompt for April 25

    WILD TIMES AT THE BELL DELI

    Diplomas or pedigree credentials
    Would not have been helpful one bit
    No brain power required; pay by the hour
    Stuff down your comical wit

    Could I do a little math?
    Any personal skills?
    Previous experience: none
    On with the smock, get ready to start
    The fun had only begun

    The orders came at me like cannonballs
    Entrees with mystery
    Like borscht with cream cheese
    Tongue, if you please
    Nothing like that in my history

    There I was with no script in a great classic scene
    The best Jewish deli in town
    My cloistered upbringing – Catholic/Irish/Italian
    Had really quite let me down

    I screwed up the names
    I messed up the plates
    I was not cut out for this job
    Less than a half shift into the first day
    I began to break down and sob

    The owner tapped me kindly on the shoulder
    Said, “Let’s do us both a big favor,
    I’ll pay you right now; we’ll part friends”
    In that moment he was really my savior

    I ripped off the smock
    My feet hit the bricks
    Ran down the street
    My heels did some kicks

    I never looked back
    It was plain to see
    Working in a deli was
    The wrong job for me

  50. Sue Bench

    Making Car Parts

    The soft, fragile pieces dent, chip and crack easily.
    They are made of compressed metal powder.
    I spray the loose powder from the tray of parts
    before loading them onto the blackened belt
    that will move them into the furnace.
    At the other end, as a hardened finished product,
    they will be unloaded by another worker

    The belt moves fast.
    I work as fast as I can.
    But I can’t keep up.
    The furnace continues to eat up my pieces,
    and I’m working closer and closer to the fire.
    I space the parts farther apart to catch up a little.
    I pull a new tray of parts from the rack.
    When I turn back to the belt,
    it’s completely empty.
    I throw rows of round ‘scrap’ pieces on the belt,
    giving myself a chance to catch up.
    I’m frantic now.
    I’m not able to keep up.
    The boss will surely be mad.

    I startle awake.
    I’m hot and tired
    from working in my sleep.
    Gee, will I never forget
    loading the furnace
    at the sintered metals facility?
    30 years later
    And I’m still dreaming of it!

  51. Rebecca

    At the Department of Vital Records

    "Matthew Simon Nolan Tupac
    Roddie Lorenzo Butch Darnell
    Stu Emmit William Solomon
    Aaron Donald Mickey Antoine
    Smith"
    "Are you sure that is it?"

    "Ma’am if you do not have it
    in the correct order or have all
    the names spelled correctly
    we will be unable to release
    the birth certificate."

    Wouldn’t a DNA test be a simpler
    way to find out your baby’s daddy?
    Naming him after every possible
    father means subjecting him to
    YEARS of paperwork hassles
    and you know everyone will
    call him "Sonny" or "Big Daddy"
    anyways.
    But I am just microfilming and this
    has nothing to do with me.

  52. Shana

    Recipe for a first job

    Take
    every element of
    teenage fashion angst:
    polyester shorts (the old kind, not the spiffy new performance fabrics), red
    — not hot pants, but too short —
    a bold-striped tank top, primary colors
    and
    a terrible hat, an upside-down bucket, same stripes, also primary colored

    Add lemonade-making in a giant vat
    — naturally, requiring girls to jump up and down, to pound the lemons –
    and
    sprinkle with freeze-framed staring men

    Mix in a vegetarian
    working with hot dogs

    Bake for 3 weeks

    And you have a
    spectacular
    first job

  53. Anahbird

    Nine Months

    I should have known
    From the very first day
    When “training” became
    Filing two weeks worth
    Of back paperwork
    Into the already overcrowded
    Filing cabinets
    But I was desperate
    Three months without a job
    Made 8.50 per hour of
    Slave labor very much preferable
    To nothing
    And my rent, utility, car, and student loan
    Payments demanded it
    My savings spent
    I had little choice but to accept
    The job that lasted
    Nine months too long
    From hell to purgatory
    You only know the difference
    You only know the good
    If you have seen how bad
    The bad can be.

  54. Sara McNulty

    It was strictly a morning job
    since I never went back after lunch
    Woolworth’s pet department
    Biloxi, Miss 1968, and me an 18 year-old
    Air Force bride from New York foolish,
    frightened, scooping fish out of tanks
    into small plastic bags. "I need a
    male and female," she said. I scooped
    up two fish, not a clue, hoping they would do.
    Kids banging on the tanks, me giving thanks
    that I would never see this department after 12:00.

    (True story, bad marriage)

  55. lynn rose

    Early riser
    Its dark out, early morning, no traffic just a few early morning walkers. Clock in time 5:55 am, that way we are in our buildings
    by 6:00. Same routine everyday, unlock doors, turn lights on, get trash can and put gloves on. I unlock office doors, get trash, vacum if needed, turns lights off, lock doors. Someone’s comeing in, its the Dean early most mornings. Sometimes I am just an image standing in the room and sometimes he see’s me and says "Good Morning". Clean the restrooms and mop entry way, wipe off glass on the doors for fingerprints. Makeing sure that it is presentable for the day. Its almost 7:30 time to go, off to another building and the same things. Its not a bad job, its not to hard and it doesn’t pay very while at all but I enjoy the people and the place I work. I am a housekeeper for a local college and do a very good job. I take pride in my work and show up everyday, I am nice and do what I am told. I try my best to please, it really is a dirty job in the way people see a cleaning person, or janitor as we are called. People never see the person behind the cleaning lady, they see the job. That is not very pretty. Its ashame, that people don’t take the time TO see the person behind the mop, instead of seeing what they want to see, oh they clean toilets for a living and get trash, that’s a nasty job. It takes good people to do this and we are people. Please take the time to address one and tell them to have a great day and you apprecite them and the job they do.

  56. Kateri Woody

    Sorry this is a day late – had an interesting time last night that prevented me from posting on time. :)

    "Choking"

    And he breathes –
    exhales the nervousness
    trying to shed it like a thick
    blanket wrapped around
    a sweating body in the intense
    July heat,
    but it stays. It sticks, the nervousness
    is exuded with every aborted word
    that flail and writhe as they
    fall off his tongue before
    they finally die in the ears
    of the audience who isn’t laughing –
    their silence choking him
    in tandem with the way he chokes
    on the punchline being butchered
    by the mercurial joke
    poisoning his first and last
    attempt at chasing his dream
    occupation as a stand up comedian.

  57. Mike Barzacchini

    My one-day career as a life insurance salesman

    Stale break room donuts,
    High-pressure sales
    Rode around with the boss
    In his Cadillac
    (“I buy a new one every year”)
    We visited the homes of the
    Old, poor and frightened
    Asking in front of their
    Husbands or wifes
    What they will do
    When the other one dies.
    At the end of the day
    I fled into the comfortable
    Sanity of unemployment

  58. Lorraine Hart

    Kevin…could soooo smell the apples…started to drool!
    Iain…you are like a gourmet dish…never know what it’s going to be…but you make taste buds I never knew I had, tingle. I’d enjoy a night at the pub swapping stories…I’m glad they didnae shoot you!
    Omavi Ndoto…felt a lot inside "Asphalt Dreams"…thank you.
    Bonnie…you made me think of the photo I almost used for a prompt…a guy getting worked on in the ER, after a shooting…takes a minute to take in that the patient is in a KKK robe and hat…and all the docs and nurses are black. You said it so well…about putting your emotions away to do your job…and feeling the later tsunami…bless you in your work!
    Elizabeth…"The Wedding Soloist" had me in stitches.
    Tyger Valverde…"I Weld" smelled of hot metal…good stuff!
    Half Moon Mollie…you always catch my eye and ear in some way…ah, the "Operator"…sweet and humble.
    Justin Evans…"After The War" hit me in a lot of ways…I just wanted to send you a mama’s hug.

    Thank you everyone…it’s been a three cuppa read!

  59. Iain D. Kemp

    A p.s. … Just been reading last nights posts, love them all!
    Esp. Lorraine & MJDills.

    Reading some of the posts this memory came to me:

    Bookkeeper NOT Book-keeper

    When I was young my mum was
    A Bookkeeper
    I didn’t know exactly what she did
    But had somehow discovered that she was
    Not a Librarian (They don’t keep books, they lend
    them to others!)
    What I did know was (’cause Mum told me) that
    Bookkeeper is the only word in the English language
    With three consecutive double letters
    And that to hyphenate it is wrong. Just Wrong!

  60. Kim

    Thanks, Debra. :) Though now, reading what I wrote, I think I really should have mentioned somewhere that my boys were on a tricycle, not in a car.
    The things that never occur to you at 11:30 p.m. . . .

  61. Elizabeth Keggi

    To Barbara T.G. – I went to a high school shaped like a drum which had no windows. If you wanted light, you had to take chorus or art, which were in a separate (but attached) building. Come winter, school days were the worst – no full sun coming or going. -Elizabeth

  62. Ang

    Restructuring

    My job is being downsized
    I once was on call
    24/7
    I used all my skills
    On a daily basis
    Made executive decisions
    Was a manager, supervisor, coworker
    I knew the ins and outs of the whole company
    I knew everyone
    But, now I’ll be a consultant
    My services rarely needed
    Soon I will suffer
    From what is commonly known
    As empty nest syndrome

  63. jane penland hoover

    Loquacious Counting

    Accountants when we met, loving
    numbers more than words, penciling
    in one and then another, stacking
    neat in columns green and wide
    mechanically making more or less
    till assets less liabilities gave zero
    and we had balanced out our sheets.

    Had we not loved those digits so
    we might never have come in our
    solitary way to discover how to make
    seven from the two of us by simply
    multiplying, later noting blessings
    when each asked could she move out
    marry, carry on, and also multiply.

    Our numbering days now done, there is
    no repetitive recording, no accurate
    accounting filling up thick pads. Today
    we watch the blue birds flit about, tucking
    in, filling our their seasonal nest and we
    rest silent in our lazy chairs, inclined
    to count each time one makes a pass.

    ©Jane Penland Hoover

  64. Barbara Ehrentreu

    Appointment Day

    Make calls each Monday and Thursday
    hoping to place appointments calling
    until I’ve filled my quota
    until my book has less empty than full
    until my arm aches from holding the
    phone and my ear rebels from hearing
    too many no’s I won’t meet with you.
    Rejected before you’ve seen me
    Even with the thick skin developed
    over years of teaching and job hunting
    and being a writer seeing the thick
    envelope sent back to me I turn it off
    and forge ahead.

    "Where’s the money?" you ask."Why
    do you stay there?" No, it’s not teaching
    where a paycheck comes every 2 weeks
    no matter what I do. It’s long hours with
    little or no pay, but the rewards are there
    still out of reach.

    I’ll get there someday, but meanwhile
    I’m driving to Manhattan where I think
    construction is a necessary evil for beauty.
    Dressed in my functional black suit

    The cherry blossoms are blooming as I
    go up the Henry Hudson Parkway and
    form a lush backdrop of apple blossom
    white and pink blooms crowding concrete
    fighting for dominance over city streets
    Home to eat lunch between appointments
    and I’m able to clean the stove squeezing
    it into the space of a canceled appointment.
    Then rush to the next appointment eager
    for at least one sale.

    Peddler of insurance,
    helper, educator, salesperson, customer
    servicer, agent.

  65. Shirley T.

    How to Make a Vegetarian

    It was no less than horror for pay,
    But a sad necessity back in the day;
    A time when good jobs weren’t around
    Work at the meat plant could always be found.
    By seven each morning the drones stumbled in,
    White coats, hard hats, prepared to begin.
    Big room was for slicers, who first cut the veal,
    Earning stars on their hats for every pound yield,
    So they cut really quick, always flashing their knives,
    And fights would break out and threaten the lives
    Of the stackers who brought the slabs to the tables
    Then took the slices for sorting and labels.
    Next was the line where the slices were stacked,
    Rolled onto belts then came out plastic packed.
    But machines would break down and the meat pile high,
    Forcing slicers to stop, their knives to lay by.
    "No cutting, no bonus" was an absolute fact,
    The slicers weren’t known for patience or tact,
    And those on the line would run out on break,
    Never knowing what action a slicer might take.
    Sure enough, there’s an angry knife-wielder’s cry,
    "Fix that damn thing or somebody dies."
    Despite all the fun they had on the floor,
    The real laughs began with a walk through the door
    That led to the heart-stopping, bone- chilling gloom
    Of that abyss from hell called the shipping room.
    A rock hard floor with an inch of slush,
    Barrels of scrap meat turning to mush,
    Teetering towers of packing crates,
    A stone cold crew motivated by hate;
    And there at the heart, stark, gleaming, unreal~
    That thing called "The Tunnel" to suck in the veal.
    It spewed liquid nitrogen all ’round those packs,
    Then spit them out veal rocks, aimed at your back.
    You stood packing those rocks in boxes so neat,
    ‘Til your fingers went numb and so did your feet.
    Just when you’d had about all you could take,
    The meat warden’s voice screamed out "Break!"
    And you had ten minutes to warm up your blood,
    Dry boots that were soaked from your stand in the flood.
    But before you could thaw your eyelids to blink,
    It was back to the cold, the slush and the stink,
    Only to find that while you were away,
    They’d rolled in the barrels that arrived that day,
    Filled with raw stew meat to put up in bags.
    You’re named scooper, chill grins from the hags
    Whose job is to tie up the bags that you fill.
    You’re in charge of the meat. Gosh, what a thrill.
    Your rubber-gloved hand reaches for the first time
    Deep into fifty-five gallons of slime,
    Not so deep it flows over your cuff,
    Just to grab a good handful, enough
    to quickly fill up the five-pound sack
    before you barf or throw out your back.
    Again and again you bend over the rim,
    Til your insides are damaged and you’re feeling grim,
    But you can’t stop yet, meat’s still inside.
    By the time you hit bottom, you wish you had died.
    Finally, finally the clock gets to four
    And the drones all fumble back out the door.
    The knives are sheathed, the next sound you hear
    Is the cracking of pop tops on cold cans of beer.
    Working with meat is a fine occupation,
    In the slicing and packing there’s gratification.
    It’s noble and fine to help feed the world.
    For the meat people, let the flags unfurl,
    The trumpets blare and the cannons boom!
    Hail those who endure those flesh-flecked rooms!
    The meat world was never meant for the meek.
    As for me, I lasted six weeks.
    ###

    Shirley T.

    I know this is awful but so was the job. And once I remembered it all the good jobs got pushed out of my head until this
    employment boil was lanced.

  66. AlaskanRC

    I’m still playing catch up and will be trying to get my poem up tomorrow morning…technically later this morning after I get some sleep. I was reading these poems though and I just wanted to say that I am so happy that I’ve taken part in this challenge.

    Lisa McMahan your poem gives a very different look at what a person has to endure to bring about justice.

    Earl Parsons your poem touched me personally. I’ve always had great respect for those that serve in any branch of the military. I’ve recently enlisted in the Army and I’m proud to join the ranks of such great service men and women that have come before me.

  67. Emily Blakely

    “Desperation”

    Trial day, the clerk reviewed her list
    looking for anything missed.
    Defendant and attorneys–check
    Officer and witnesses–check
    Jury–check
    Judge–oops!
    Panic set in, spinning toward a breakdown
    when the judge could not be found.
    Across the street a lawyer and friend
    might bring the dilemma to its end,
    for judge he sometimes stood in.
    Her plea, with a look of chagrin:
    “You are needed now!”
    caused a raised eyebrow.
    The clerk made quick confession
    just as bailiff called, “Court is now in session!”

  68. Rox

    Diane – Glad I could make you laugh! It’s such an odd mix of memories working on the worm farm for the manager of the trailer park my grandparents lived it; but it was a great summer first job!

  69. Barbara Tzetzo Gosch

    Class Begin

    Busses unload the students.
    The day starts on schedule.
    Everything is timed.
    Locker doors open.
    BOOM
    They slam shut.
    Rooms exist or rather—
    padded cells.
    No windows.
    There’s a maze.
    Room after room—
    Pictures cover every
    conceivable space
    to provide warmth.
    Most hours in the day are
    spent in this
    institutional setting.
    Tick, Tick, Tick
    How many minutes to go?
    Until finally—it’s 3:45.
    The day ends. Relief!
    “Have a good weekend.
    See you on Monday.”

  70. Karen

    Almost out of a Job

    Between my brief teaching career and the
    nowadays brink teetering toward
    calling myself a writer
    has been my noblest calling:
    Molder of lives.
    Crying in the night.
    Stumble to the other room to set things write.
    Early wakings.
    Temperature takings.
    Bedside vigils.
    Oreo middles.
    Goodnight stories and lullabies.
    Combing the yard for beetles or butterflies.
    Silly conversation opera singing.
    Laughter through the house ringing.
    Tantrums at two and seventeen.
    And lots of times inbetween.
    Sacred moments of whispered prayer.
    Profound God questions unaware.
    Tears at breakups.
    Wanting to wear makeup.
    Driving lessons.
    Homework questions.
    Senior prom,
    College, here we come.
    Summer, pool’s open.
    Friends over often.
    If I never did another thing,
    my glory, and my husband’s,
    will be in raising, teaching,
    loving, bonding with these two
    amazing human beings.

  71. Judy Stewart

    there have been alot of poems from teachers but I am going to try one more

    I really enjoy all the poems from each day, the problem is having the time to get to read them!

    The Alphabet

    ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ that is how the alphabet goes
    I wonder how they ever came up with all those letters
    and the order they were to go?
    why couldn’t it be QWERTYUIOPASDFGHJKLZXCVBNM? I don’t know
    but each year I start with the letter A and go to Z
    and wish I could go in any order I please!

    the alphabet song has changed in tune
    in the reading book I teach,
    but still the same order they are
    there is an alphabet cheer I like much better
    so I get my relief but the letters
    are in the same order

    Now with all of the rules for spelling
    each time you teach one,
    there is always an exception to that rule
    so why does the alphabet have to be the same
    order can’t there be an exception to the rule?

  72. Mike Padg

    We hit
    We cheer
    We throw things
    We whine and moan
    Accuse others of being wrong
    Even if we’re the ones who’re foul.
    We run from those who would catch us
    and steal everything they aim to protect
    Until I have to join the real world I’ll be
    perfectly content working everday playing ball.

  73. Sheryl Kay Oder

    Other Duties as Assigned

    Decades ago in my bureaucratic paid job days
    this phrase ended my job description.
    Whenever we were given a strange job,
    we joked that it was other duties as assigned.

    Nowadays it seems all my jobs are thus—
    assigned by the LORD,
    assigned by myself,
    assigned by family needs
    assigned by church responsibilities—
    other duties as assigned.

    cook
    dishwasher
    purchasing agent
    weeder
    housekeeper
    accountant
    trouble shooter
    listening wife, mother, daughter, or friend
    Bible student
    prayer room overseer
    greeting card signer and mailer

    No, hubby.
    Just because I have
    a miniscule pension
    I am not retired.
    Homemakers never retire.
    Tell the IRS
    I simply continue with
    other duties as assigned.

  74. Sarah

    Crackers Catering

    I was grateful for the latex gloves.
    Soaking in their juice, the pickle spears
    would exacerbate the tiniest
    paper cut or hangnail.
    They were sprinkled with red and black
    peppercorns, mutant ones
    the size of peas.
    Wrapping the spears became automatic–
    center on the plastic, roll, flip,
    tuck in the ends.
    Only helping out for a few days,
    an outsider in the family business,
    I wrapped pickles and held my tongue,
    no hard feat, but unsettling to others.
    Except Devon, who smiled at me,
    nudged me toward the door of conversation
    instead of staring at the strange creature I was
    and wondering why I couldn’t
    walk through on my own.

  75. mjdills

    He catalogued each piece of vinyl
    Round platters protected in cardboard sleeves.
    He was just a kid of fourteen
    But he knew who was what
    And what was Who.
    It was a “recycled” vinyl store
    People dropped off boxes of
    Tito Puente, The Beatles, Patsy Cline.
    He got to keep what he liked and
    He liked Benny Goodman and AC/DC.
    His father couldn’t figure him out.
    At night he swept the floor and listened to
    The train that passed by two streets over.
    Johnny Cash, rolling round the bend,
    Looking for some sunshine.
    Snapped off the lights and
    He walked home, kicking stones and dodging puddles
    Wondering what he could listen to tomorrow.
    The streetlamps hummed in a particular way
    That made him think of The Orange Blossom Special.
    The back door creeked open and he heard The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
    He thought Ennio Morricone would have loved Eddie Vedder
    If they’d ever had the chance to meet.
    They did, in his head, and he created the symphony
    With one lone man on a stage
    Gripping a mic, in front of thousands of violins
    Gene Krupa and Keith Richards grinning, leering, sneering at each other.
    He simply smiled
    Pulled the covers over his head.
    He grew up with a world of music in his soul.
    Never knowing his own true age
    His peers shaking their heads
    Sometimes laughing, Always in awe.
    He watched the eight track come and go
    And he stored shoeboxes of cassettes
    But his true love was vinyl.
    Even the musty smell
    Gave him some kind of shivers
    As he logged people’s memories
    And wondered
    Who listened to Josh Black
    Singing to that black girl?

  76. Kim

    As I look at it, this doesn’t exactly look job-related, but as yet another stay-at-home mom, this is what I like best about my job:

    Right Now

    Right now they aren’t fighting.
    Right now there are no tears.
    Golden heads held close together,
    Brother helping little brother
    One works the pedals, the other tries to steer.

    Later on will come the yelling:
    "He took my toy!" "He’s in my chair!"
    Or the play will get too rough
    ‘Til even my little warriors tough
    Find they need Mommy’s loving care.

    But right now they’re gentle, peaceful.
    Speaking in voices soft and low.
    In this moment rare, in this manner mild
    I see the angel within the child.
    I live for moments like right now.

  77. Diane

    LOL, Rox! You bring back such memories! I used to help my dad count and pack the night crawlers from his worm farm. Then at night I would dream about masses of them squirming around in a bucket!

  78. Carol Brian

    Making Boxes at Mattel

    My first real job after high school
    before college and the big world
    I was the “boxer” last station on the line
    all those dolls sliding along
    their plastic smiles beaming skyward
    practicing their expressions
    for what lay ahead

    Carol Brian

  79. Diane

    After seeing the prompt this morning I knew I wanted to write about all the people who do so many things each day that we would greatly miss if they DIDN’T do them! As my day progressed, it changed a little….I know we already had a thank you prompt, I hope another thank you poem is ok…

    You did a Great Job!

    Today I went to the bank
    with what became a complicated transaction
    that couldn’t be done the way I requested.
    The teller was very nice to answer all my questions
    still, she looked strained and stressed.

    When we got done I looked at her and said,
    "Thank you, you did a great job!"
    Her eyes grew wide with surprise and
    her face erupted with a smile of delight.

    "I’m sorry you had to wait," she said.
    "Not at all, you did great!" I answered,
    "And we got it figured out.
    Thank you very much."

    But as I turned away,
    her grateful amazement
    brought tears to my eyes.
    Don’t tellers often get thanked?

    Are we always in a hurry
    and irritable from money worries?
    I’m ashamed to remember days
    they have had to put up with my complaining…

    So, thank you bank tellers
    store clerks, factory workers, janitors
    waitresses, pharmacists
    policemen, repairmen
    and all the other people
    who work hard, with little thanks
    and deal graciously with our impatience
    fatigue and complaining.

    Thank you!
    You did a good job today.
    What would we do without you?

  80. Lorraine Hart

    A Willing Alice

    Nearly forty years falling
    down the magic hole of
    music and mayhem
    luckier than most
    I live my dream
    no rabbit to chase just
    eighth-note crows to
    fly across an empty score
    while trust like dust
    floats within the footlights
    and the smoke of that
    caterpillar’s blue note
    paints my costume again

  81. LBC

    Job Seeking

    Some days
    I regret the career I’ve chosen,
    believe I’ve made a big mistake.
    I can name a dozen professions
    in which I’d rather partake.
    I ponder the possibilities
    each and every day,
    yearning to use my talents
    in an amazing, exhilarating way.

    I am seeking
    something adventurous,
    positively glamorous,
    definitely fabulous.
    for me.

    But the school bell rings,
    I’m the star of the show.
    Producer and director
    of all my students need to know.
    My life belongs to children
    each and every day,
    developing their talents
    in an amazing, exhilarating way.

    They are seeking
    something adventurous,
    positively glamorous,
    definitely fabulous
    from me.

    Some days
    I enjoy the career I’ve chosen
    imagine I’m extraordinary at what I do.
    The realization I can make a difference
    awards courage to begin anew.
    When the challenge is overwhelming,
    Children’s heartache too much to bear
    I let my mind wander
    to that daydream where….

    I have found
    something adventurous,
    positively glamorous,
    definitely fabulous
    in me.

  82. Justin Evans

    After the War

    I would sit alone writing letters to anyone I knew, trying to convince them to write me, trying to convince myself I was still alive. The pens I wrote with were cheap and my hands shook. Being left handed, I would smear my letters, rubbing in the dust which was everywhere, After years of thinking over the past, I believe now I was actually trying to send myself home, one tiny layer at a time.

    I think about writing letters to soldiers in Iraq now, mirroring the kindness of those who wrote anonymous letters to me, but they’ve stopped all of that: Too much hate mail finding its way to soldiers who don’t know how to shrug off their anger. I can’t help but think now that in some small way, I should be sending myself back to the desert where I know none of these soldiers belong.

  83. Deb Hill

    April 25, day 25 (Occupation)

    I do

    I do what you would do, if you saw the things I see
    I do what wouldn’t be needed, if stress was not free
    I do what can help, but causes pain to those at first
    I do what is counseled to fix broken births
    I am the unspoken voice’s of children
    I am an advocate they can depend
    I volunteer at Juvenile Court as needed
    I am known as the *CASA* a friend

    *Court Appointed Special Advocate*

  84. Linda

    Occupation

    If by occupation
    you mean job,
    then the means
    I’ve paid my way
    encompass much:
    burger slinger,
    sundae maker,
    paper thrower,
    kiddy sitter,
    corn grower,
    soil scientist,
    baby maker,
    nurse maid,
    teacher,
    handholder,
    chauffeur,
    cortesan,
    consultant,
    professor…
    But if by occupation
    you mean
    what occupies me –
    my heart, my mind, my soul –
    then it is none of the above.

    Peace, Linda

  85. Kimberly Kinser

    after driving for 12 hours…. this is all i can think of

    Parasitologist

    Smear a well preserved specimen
    poop really
    on a glass slide
    with a toothpick-like object.
    Dye it pretty colors
    See any eggs?
    Amoebas?
    Giardia?
    Is this any way
    to make a living?

  86. Liza

    Constant Calling

    I’m sure many of you
    have gotten calls
    from little old me.
    Would you mind doing a suvery?

    I’m constantly calling
    with insistant ringing
    and monotone voices
    saying no one’s there.

    Some surveys could be funny
    though others may be dullsville,
    but I try to make it quick
    and fun and as painless as possible.

    No, we don’t sell anything,
    and we don’t usually pay
    though we do pay when you
    come in for a discussion group.

    The working environment is laidback,
    not high-stressed, except
    for my driving need to compete.
    Would you, please, it’s short?

  87. John H Maloney

    Igor’s Lament

    Beneath the rising smoke
    and the jacob’s ladder’s arc,
    behind the insane scientist
    trying to make his mark
    a lone, disfigured form
    hunches over the controls
    tasked with the job of making sure
    that everything unfolds.
    If anything goes wrong
    he’ll be the one to blame,
    but if it’s successful he’ll receive
    no fortune and no fame.
    Toiling away in silence,
    he’s content to just survive
    until the moment Master screams
    "It’s alive … alive!"

  88. Cari

    Roll out of bed, throw on some shoes,
    and get to an 8:30 am class.

    Hoodie sweatshirt covers my unbrushed mane,
    yoga pants hide the freshman fifteen,
    shower flip flops were the only footwear I could find.

    Partied late last night.
    The fire alarm rang through the dorm at 3,
    I slept for ten minutes.

    I just declared my major last week,
    already thinking about a change.
    8:30 am is not an easy A…

    But my next class isn’t until 6:30 tonight and,
    I’m still in my pajamas.
    Looks like I have a date with my bed at 9:45.

    I wonder how my parents would feel baout
    a five year plan…

    I can see it now…
    Occupation? Professional Student!

  89. Caili Wilk

    Second Day on the Job

    Damn. I just realized
    I forgot to save
    The file I spent hours
    Working on yesterday,
    My very first day.

    But, this is my second day
    And I know a lot more,
    Can work faster,
    And I will even take
    A late lunch, not just
    Munch the apple I brought.

    By next week I will be
    Using the coffee machine,
    Bringing my own cup
    And I may introduce myself
    To the tech guys next door.

    I think I’ll be ok here
    If I remember to hit
    Save more often.

  90. Rox

    My First Job

    How proud to carefully intrude
    Wriggling eight-year-old fingers
    Into damp, dark rich earth.
    Bathed in the aroma of
    Pine boxes, special soil;
    Hands gently capture
    Not the flat, thin red worms
    But the soft, plump nightcrawlers;
    Treasures that brought an extra quarter
    On the worm farm.

  91. Michelle H.

    Window Washer

    Is it quiet up there?
    Just you and the glass

    Do you see your reflection?
    Perhaps think of the grass

    Do you feel like a dare devil?
    Flying alone in the sky

    Do the birds come to visit?
    Making you wish you could fly

    Do you wish you were inside?
    When the wind is strong

    What is it like to be you?
    High above the throng

    April 25, 2008
    © Michelle H.
    This was extremely difficult for me. I’m currently a "Stay-at-home-Mom" and a volunteer at our school. Then I remembered wondering as a child what it is like to be a window washer on the skyscrapers. So here it is.

  92. Elizabeth Keggi

    The Wedding Soloist

    The groom is smarmy
    The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want…
    The bride looks greedy
    He makes me lie down in green pastures…
    The mother of the bride is controlling
    He revives my soul and guides me along right pathways…
    The father of the groom is careless with others’ feelings
    Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…
    The bridesmaids look expensive
    Your rod and your staff they comfort me…
    The groomsmen look at the bridesmaids
    You spread a table before me…
    The color scheme is atrocious
    You have anointed my head with oil…
    I’m not getting paid enough to this again
    Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the
    house of the Lord forever.
    Amen already.

    Elizabeth Keggi

  93. Lyn Sedwick

    First Job: Clothing Shop Clerk

    The summer after I turned sixteen
    I worked at Matthew’s Clothing Store.
    I learned right away that you have
    To stand, and stand, and stand (one girl
    Washed out the first week from blood
    Clots in her legs), and not in comfortable
    Shoes either, and that women and girls
    Who try things on are slobs, often leaving
    Nice clothes in piles on the floor of the
    Dressing room, which is why now,
    To my daughter’s dismay, I insist
    We hang up every dress we ever
    Try on, and button every button.

    Lyn Sedwick

  94. Bruce Niedt

    Passing the Baton

    This is the job I said would do for a few years,
    until something better came along. I jumped
    a career ladder mid-rung to come here
    for higher pay, the government payroll.
    Now, thirty-some years later, the golden handcuffs
    are firmly locked in place. I could have been
    a psychologist instead of a bureaucrat – c’est la vie.
    Ask me if I like my job, and the answer
    will depend on my day. At least I’m giving folks
    what they want and need, their hard-earned benefits.
    I used to be young enough to be their son,
    orchestrating their retirement. Now I’m nearly their age –
    it’s almost time to pass the baton. Some day soon
    I’ll surprise someone by sitting on the other side
    of this desk, as I sign papers passed to me
    by a young man or woman just starting out,
    wondering if they’ll really ever be my age some day.

  95. Laurie Kolp

    The Best Job Ever
    (Dedicated to my three wonderful children)

    I’ve had lots of jobs in my forty years,
    baby-sitting, cash register ringing,
    and seating clientele.
    Then there was bookkeeping and floor sweeping,
    running errands, as well.

    Most of them I stuck to,
    for a year or two,
    until I finished college.
    Then I spent the next twelve years
    teaching kids to read,
    filling them with knowledge.

    But perhaps the most endearing job
    that I’ve ever had,
    was given to me from above.
    It doesn’t pay all that well,
    but the reward is paid in love.

    It is the lifelong dream
    that lasts a lifetime, too.
    For the best career I’ve ever had
    is being the mother of you!

  96. Omavi Ndoto

    Asphalt Dreams

    The sun bakes his back as it bakes
    The road that is his task
    He wipes his brows and looks down this lonely lane
    As the heat brings forth mirages in steamy form
    A family of four
    Mommy, daddy, sister and brother too
    And her smiles
    As the steam transforms and shows more
    Possible futures or maybe unreachable dreams
    But in each one he sees
    It something that he wants and needs
    Security to take care of himself and his
    Ability to productive for himself
    Not under another master’s whip
    He sees the happiness, a happiness
    Many moments of happiness he hopes
    Will soon be his
    As the skin on his back steams
    Before the sweat from his head hits it
    Working for today but tomorrow is truly
    Where all his goals live
    So he wipes the sweat from his brows
    As strong muscles succeed today
    So that tomorrow
    Mirages on asphalt
    May become a reality that is his

  97. satia

    This is a bit of a sore spot for me because I am currently looking for a job at the moment so I know that this is uninspired but I’m confident I’ll be more focused tomorrow.

    I am too preoccupied to write about my occupation
    Too busy contacting business in hopes their hiring
    Searching job listings to find the perfect job for me.

    I am too much in this present moment
    To spend and expend time expounding
    On past employment situations for now.

    Maybe sometime later I’ll have time
    During my lunch break to explore
    For now, I need to resume my search
    Résumé in hand, passing the poetic buck.

  98. TaunaLen

    bookshelves filled
    with “how to write”
    a novel, memoir
    poetry, romance

    containers of pens
    scattered in every room
    reminders that
    there’s work to do

    a notepad in the pocket
    another in my purse
    a journal in every room
    scribbled phrases
    on napkins, receipts
    the back of the phone bill

    cup after cup of
    warm amber tea
    pajamas and socks
    with pencils in my hair

    this is the job I’ve chosen
    or maybe it chose me
    either way, I’d not trade
    for any other in the world

    TLS, April 2008

  99. Joannie Stangeland

    Thank you, Robert. I never would have written about this without the prompt. It was such a fleeting moment that sometimes I forget it completely, but it has been surfacing lately, and I enjoyed having a good chance (excuse?) to explore it.

    The Job I Could Not Keep

    March darkness patches window panes black
    and the kitchen settles, sinks a little deeper
    into early morning chill. Any step seems too loud,
    an intrusion at this hour, but I measure flour,
    warm the water, soften the yeast. I pare
    fruit for a pie, cut butter for scones
    to sell at the pizzeria down the street.
    I stir and and I knead–quietly.
    I lie down on the linoleum floor, stretch
    to the back of the oven with a match,
    but the brioche don’t plump up into pillows.
    The pastries are reprieved, mostly uneaten
    in the clean glass case, and my dream of being a baker,
    my solo roll into business,
    rises only a couple of weeks
    before I succumb to the market’s reality,
    my own lack of math, the stress
    of silence, and a flat exhaustion.
    Now the nurse who works swing shift
    and lives in the basement
    can finally get some sleep.

  100. Renee Goularte

    Not Always Thankless

    The Kindergarten teacher
    misses the warning
    on a child’s changing face
    just before he flicks a paintbrush
    loaded with paint at the wall, at the floor,
    on the little girl with pink sparkly shoes.

    After school
    she gets a workout
    scrubbing paint off the floor
    in the sudden absence
    of children’s voices, each one
    wanting her now, needing her,
    pulling on her sleeve, her pants,
    the tail of her untucked shirt,
    asking for help, needing a pencil,
    wanting a snack, a drink,
    needing to go to the bathroom,
    to the playground, to throw up.

    In silence
    she can take the time
    to enjoy the smaller moments:
    the lighting up of young eyes
    when a friend says “You are really smart!”
    or “Do you want some of my snack?”
    Now she can look more carefully
    at the art work, the writings,
    and remember the feel of little hands
    seeking hers on the playground.

  101. Dee IKJ

    Mother 4-25-08

    First, there was one then there were two
    the best job I have ever had who knew

    First they were babies then toddlers they became
    scraped knees, tears to dry, fears to chase, what great fame

    All to soon they were on their own
    First one, then the other gone, they had flown.

    But always mother I will be
    now with grandchildren on my knee.

  102. Kate

    The Chef’s Nightmare

    I’m the cook
    without an apron
    in an unfamiliar kitchen
    during lunch hour rush.

    Orders are piling up
    soup is boiling over
    waitresses are harassed
    customers are testy.

    The prep cook is stoned
    the dishwasher stepped out
    for a smoke an hour ago
    and hasn’t returned.

    I don’t remember the menu
    get lost in the walk-in freezer
    narrowly miss my finger
    with a knife.

    And even though I’ll wake up
    an adjunct professor of English at the University
    in the alternate universe of my dreams I’m
    still just a line cook in an all-night bar and grill.

  103. Kevin

    Selling Apples

    And the van,
    deep and dark with dirt,
    was filled to burst
    with the green and red
    of candied orchard aromas.
    Bushels and baskets
    fight to push me
    out beyond
    the safety of doors.
    We go door to door,
    us boys,
    swinging the baskets
    to lift the scent
    of fresh picked apples
    to the front porch air
    before we knock.
    And fond, the memories
    of long hot days,
    bouncing untethered
    in the back of vans,
    selling apples
    door to door.
    Misery, his name was Don,
    behind the wheel,
    shouting "cuter boys…
    be cuter next, next door
    cuter" in his fresh-cut,
    square worded German tongue.
    And we, afraid to disobey,
    we’d pour it on,
    and pinch our cheeks
    to pink them up.
    And housewives smile,
    touch our new-shined gems
    and come unglued
    like captured Snow Whites
    about to bite the poison sting.
    What is it about apples
    that gloss the mind,
    force its return
    to childhood idle?
    The smiles returned,
    with missing teeth
    we lost in spring,
    the ladies melt and run inside.
    Selling apples, summer lost,
    such beauty packed in heaps
    against the seats,
    and even mean, old Don,
    would gloss his mind
    and let us eat our weight
    in trade, allow us
    leave when filled to burst
    with green and red.

  104. Matthew Abel

    It Shines

    The smell of urine,
    vomit,
    it falls before my
    mighty sponge,
    replaced with pine
    scent
    blue water.
    The toilet gleams
    as I swirl the concoction
    within it’s bowl.
    I scrub the floor
    the grime released
    defeated by me
    and my brethren.

  105. patti williams

    I Am a Writer

    At the heart,
    The soul of it,
    I am a writer.
    But for now
    That sits on the back burner
    Mulling,
    Stewing,
    Brewing.
    So until the time comes
    I pay invoices, pick colors,
    Help my husband
    Build beautiful custom homes;
    One of a kind
    Works of art.
    We start with a piece of paper
    An idea,
    And in the end we
    Deliver a dream.
    Of course I also have
    The mommy duties,
    The cooking, cleaning
    And always the damn laundry!
    But at the heart,
    The soul of it,
    At the end of the day,
    When everyone else goes to bed,

    I am a writer.

  106. Michelle Cooper

    Accounting

    Accounting is for numerical accountability.
    Accounting is for counting one sequential
    number after a orderly nother.
    Accounting is a sequenced based
    numerical system of numerical order.
    Accounting should be limited to only
    consistantly detailed oriented professionals.
    Accounting is for me and maybe also for you,
    but accounting is for neither if we spent
    most of the night up watching movies.

    H. Michelle Cooper

  107. Bonnie

    Elizabeth and Corinne
    Thanks for the comments. I don’t guess you could really consider it a poem, but I tried to write what was on my heart. I enjoy reading what everyone is writing. Sometimes it’s a good thing to be able to get into someone else’s skin.

  108. Chris Granholm Jr.

    Doing data entry
    A rebel behind a computer monitor
    My friends and I
    The madmen running the asylum
    And then there’s our boss
    The angel trying to keep it all together
    Goofing off and talking loud
    Playing pranks and telling jokes
    Surprised that any work
    Got done at all

  109. Tyger Valverde

    I Weld

    Fire of a blue flame
    Resuscitates
    Rigid, frigid steel
    Puddle and flow
    And show
    A new, pleasing form
    Hot love joins
    Stubborn steel
    For a smooth, gray weld
    Born-again metal
    Like the dreary
    Autumn sky above me
    But more compliant

  110. Iain D. Kemp

    Debra, Hahaha, I love it, love jargon. Years ago started with a big hotel company and the talked about TCMF in the bedrooms and I’m like " Tea, coffee, milk… errr… F***ing Hotchocolate??"
    It was tea & coffee making facilities!! Coulda died!

  111. Iain D. Kemp

    This wasn’t exactly a job; maybe you could call it voluntary work. For many years I was unable to discuss it, but times have changed. Here goes…

    The Dead Postman

    It was 1981; I was 19 years old with balls
    As big as a bull, made of steel, they wouldn’t catch me
    They wouldn’t shoot me
    But if they had, they would’ve, I didn’t know then
    What I know now. It was 1981, I was just 19.
    At age 19 boys went to war and died not seeing two score
    But I was just a waiter, a college student on industrial release
    In Berlin, West Berlin, with a wall all around it.
    Not just the town, so much more, most people don’t know how there was a huge forest
    A lake with boats and beaches and over 100 working farms. All within the Berlin Wall.
    I worked in a good hotel; I lived with a German girl of 26, kudos to me! And I did something stupid. Reckless, if I knew then what I know now… But I didn’t and my balls were big and made of steel. I worked with Alex, he’d escaped from the east and we had one thing not in common: I could go there, he couldn’t. Every two weeks I’d go for cigarettes, duty-free. One day Alex asks if I would take a letter, to his mum, in the East? I said yes, that was the start, the place, the drop would change from week to week. A tobacconists, a café, even the perfume counter of the biggest department store, but usually somewhere quiet, down a side street. And after the first time, the traffic was both ways. Letters back and forth from families split by politics, ideology and most of all by a Wall.
    A wall that I could cross. Friedrichstrasse station was less scary than Checkpoint-Charlie, fewer guards, less waiting in line. But the guards at F-Strasse still had machine guns. They wouldn’t catch me, they wouldn’t shoot me. Even after British Military Intelligence pulled me in and asked me to courier for them (I refused) I still wasn’t scared. About a week before I left Berlin, we were in a bar, my girlfriend, me, friends. I heard them at the bar, they were looking at me. “That’s him!” “Are you sure?” “Yes that’s him. The Dead Postman!” I finally found out my nickname and why I hardly ever paid a bar bill. But I wasn’t scared, I was going home, they didn’t catch me, they didn’t shoot me.

    But they would’ve done….

  112. Rodney C. Walmer

    Thank you Patti, I am also a very tough teacher. Or, mean as the kids say. But, only the bad ones. The goods think I am nice.

    Candice, I am not the type to do a book, nor share my work with many. This contest, has shown more of my work in a public forum then ever before. I have posted a poem or two here and there, even won a contest for a poem co-written with someone once. But, for the most part not my thing.

    Sarah, standardized testing has ruined the profession in my humble opinion, and though the stats are there, our country continues to judge our students learning through standardized testing. It’s almost as if they want the kids to learn certain things, and not the rest. I believe Hitler said it best "If I can control education, I can control the world." or something like that. Our country is controlling what the kids learn.

  113. Khara House

    Writers Workshopped

    I used to believe all writers performed their works on
    typewriters at midnight sitting in the dark with
    candles lit [Stop] with flashlights clenched between their teeth [Stop]
    Spilled coffee splashed across once fresh white pages,
    ignored as hands shove them into a black-tinted, silver-
    keyed machine base of creativity [Stop] I once thought
    writers composed each word in spiral-bound notebooks
    and sat at typewriters to transpose in the only hours
    left of handwritten days [Stop] No wonder on days when I
    sit at borrowed computer screens I feel like a fraud [Stop]

    *** This was the FOURTH formatting of this poem. The topic had been on my mind, so I wrote it out once; then, unhappy with the line breaks I re-lined it … then again … and this was the last (but I’m still not satisfied).

  114. Carla Cherry

    I have to confess I am infuriated over the Sean Bell verdict, and I was going to connect it to today’s prompt but I’m not ready to write that poem yet. Played it safe for today.

    The Postman

    Monday through Saturday
    around 1:00
    he comes around
    holding
    pieces of our lives
    in his hands
    and
    I am grateful
    that he
    always
    gets it right.

  115. Elizabeth Keggi

    Hey everybody – I persuaded my friend Julia to post a poem. Here it is!

    Friday

    “I need a key”
    “I need a room”
    Phone’s ringing …
    “I need a camera”
    “Is there any paper for the printer downstairs?”
    Posting signs …
    “Hey, how are you?”
    Clearing rooms …
    Moving pianos …
    Phone’s ringing …
    “Conservatory. This is Julia.”
    Phone’s ringing …
    “They need a room.”
    “No, I don’t know where he is but I can call his office.”
    Setting up chairs …
    “I need a key”
    “I won’t be in today. Can you put a sign on my door?”
    Phone’s ringing …

    5:00. Sushi and beer.

    by Julia Jackson

  116. Paige

    I know it is Friday but I pulled a Tuesday and did a 2-fer

    INSPIRED REJECTION

    Work that is
    Superb

    Above all others

    Alphabet letters penned
    Into words
    Words scripted
    Into paragraphs
    Paragraph by paragraph

    Unique—individual—loved

    No one
    In right mind would reject them
    No one

    Well maybe
    Line by line
    Destined for
    A canary’s cage

  117. Paige

    FOUR AM FOR YOU

    Flip ‘em and powder ’em
    Before sunrise
    Yummy dough-nuts
    All I could eat

    Greet ‘em and feed ‘em
    At sunrise
    Nice people
    First job

    Sweep ‘em and mop ‘em
    At sunset
    Crumby floors
    Minimum wage

    Rub ‘em and close ‘em
    After sunset
    Tired eyes
    Dollar sixty an hour

  118. Corinne

    Homeless

    Huddled
    tattered, head hung, cup
    clasped in filthy hands, like
    an actual appendage.

    Cardboard sign, sparse
    words summing up the plea: I just
    want a little dignity, and you
    don’t even have to make eye contact if you
    don’t want to. A coffee is all, or my next fix.

    Yes. I wanted to be a fireman, doctor, vet, like
    you, but I lost my way. And so now, my
    occupation is simply this very minute, where will I
    sleep tonight, and being a mirror for
    whoever dares to peek.

    Elizabeth, this is my post for today, I am wondering if it is Connie’s story you are meaning, it certainly wrung my heart.

  119. JL Smither

    Administrative Professionals Day Eve

    After you’ve finished collecting and paying all the bills and sending out the invoices,
    After you’ve finished writing and re-writing those memos and answering the phone,
    After you’ve finished setting up the meeting and picking up my theatre tickets,
    After you’ve finished filing, stapling, faxing, scheduling, proofreading, organizing, re-organizing, typing, and copying,
    After you’ve finished all that, don’t forget to order a bouquet for the executive assistant.
    After all, it’s her day.

  120. Margaret Fieland

    Writer’s Cramp

    Staring at the paper,
    think of what to write,
    wait for inspiration,
    however strange or slight.

    Put the pen to paper,
    ink the words on down,
    you can fix them later,
    now just go to town.

    Write for half an hour,
    doubt it’s any good.
    Time to go make dinner.
    Maybe if you would

    go and wash he lettuce
    instead of sitting here,
    your slight inspiration
    would become more clear.

    So you leave the salad
    sitting in the sink,
    go and finish writing,
    now that you can think.

    When you’re done it’s midnight,
    time to go to bed.
    Now your muse is stated,
    you’ll sleep like the dead.

    Writing’s never over,
    not until you’re dead.
    The words just keep on twirling,
    cluttering your head.

    Wake up in the morning
    time to start again,
    staring at the paper,
    picking up your pen.

  121. Bonnie

    Emergency Room Nursing

    Friday and the ER was unusually quiet
    “Finally” we said to each other, we needed a break.
    “Maybe we can get to actually sit down and eat lunch for a change.’
    Suddenly the call comes over the radio
    “Single car MVA., non-responsive male, 19, severe head trauma”
    Not good, I thought as the rapid report continued.
    “Patient intubated with CPR in progress.
    “Estimated time of arrival 2 minutes.”
    “10-4.” I answered. “ER standing by”
    Suddenly the emergency department was bursting with activity
    Crash cart to trauma room A.
    All departments alerted. We must move fast to save this life.
    Doors opens to the ambulance bay
    The stretcher is pushed rapidly through the doors
    One medic doing chest compressions and another
    giving breaths.
    I look at the patients face, he looks closer to 15. He could be my son.
    But I can’t think of that now
    My actions can not be clouded by emotion.
    The doctor barks out orders
    And we, having done the same thing
    More times that we could remember, anticipate his requests
    Placing items in his hand almost before the words leave his mouth
    No air movement on the left side,
    “Give me a chest tube. And start another large bore IV”
    Everyone works in silent desperation,
    unwilling to admit what we all know to be true.
    We are taught how to save a life
    But often no matter what you do it’s not enough.
    Minute after minute, time ticks away
    And hopes begin to fade.
    Pupils fixed and dilated
    Cardiac monitor shows asystole, no heart activity.
    And then the doctor utters the words we hate to hear
    “Time of death 2:21 AM.”
    As the Doctor goes to tell the family the news no one wants to hear.
    “We did everything we could, but his injuries were too severe.
    “We could not save his life”
    We try to make the “body” presentable to the family.
    Later, long after the screams of the family have silenced
    And the young man’s body has been taken to the mortuary,
    I leave the hospital mentally and physically exhausted
    As I drive I am overcome with the pent-up emotions and I weep
    For my patient, his family and for the desperation of not being able to do more.

  122. Nancy

    No Complaints

    There are worse jobs than this.
    I’ve had worse jobs than this–
    dishing out salad at minimum wage
    as my co-workers flirt for tips,
    staring at computer screens
    for hours on end, prehistoric Sudoku,
    matching misplaced credits to debits.

    Sometimes I imagine the people
    who do the jobs that must be done;
    if, as I’ve heard, most turkeys
    can no longer procreate–or even stand–
    toppling over from the weight
    of their augmented breasts,
    who has the dreadful chore,
    the minor details of turkey insemination?

    In the pre-Pampers, I suppose I thought
    that clean diapers appeared magically
    at my door, replacing the soiled ones
    left outside in the pail. Someone,
    I finally realized, drove that truck
    in August heat, swapping Downy-fresh
    swaddling for yesterday’s worst.

    Should I complain when someone says,
    for what must be the millionth time,
    "It must be nice to work
    just eight to three,
    with summers off" or should I
    slap them up the side of the head
    with this bag of eighty papers
    waiting to be scored before the
    next eighty hit my desk?

  123. Elizabeth Keggi

    Northampton, 2 A.M.

    I almost pushed the panic button,
    The one that supposedly called the police;
    I’d never seen a man stare at me at me
    Like that, wild and angry, yet focused
    As a laser, burning a hole into me
    As he stepped toward the counter.

    But an off-duty coworker quickly stepped in
    To steer the young man to the bathroom.
    The boy had tried to kill himself
    With a broken bottle of beer,
    All over a girl who knew better.
    They stopped the bleeding somehow
    And hurried out without a word.

    I never stepped outside to see
    The blood seeping into the sidewalk;
    But inside, the old swabbing mop turned
    Red, and I couldn’t get the blood out,
    Not with all the pungent cleansers
    And clear, cold water I could find.

    Elizabeth K. Keggi

    (True story – By the way,Carol of Amherst, I imagine most Smithies don’t work the graveyard shift at a convenience store for their summer job! Oh, the stories I can tell!)

  124. Connie

    Thanks Iain, I’ve been enjoying your poems too.
    Of today’s my favorites are by Rodney, Lisa, Carol/Amherst, Heather, Toad, Maria Jackett and Sara V.
    And thank you to all the soldiers.
    Carol, your poems really make me laugh.

  125. Bill Kirk

    Thirty-Nine Years And What Do You Get?
    By Bill Kirk

    Today is April 25—my 61st birthday.
    After 39 years, I am finally retiring.

    And for the first time since Woodstock,
    I won’t have a job,
    Or a pay check
    Or an office
    Or a secretary
    Or set working hours
    Or sick leave
    Or annual vacation.

    But then, again, I won’t have to
    Commute,
    Wear a tie,
    Make my lunch,
    Supervise staff,
    Assign work,
    Edit reports,
    Meet deadlines,
    Answer e-mails,
    Go to meetings or
    Please my boss.

    Hey! Wait a minute!
    Now what will I do for the next 39 years?

    Hmmmm…. I guess I’ll just go out and play.

    Word Count: 100

  126. Debra Elliott

    This challenge was harder for me today, since right now I am a SAHM and working on my writing, so I decided to write a poem to honor all SAHM’s who are over-worked and under-paid.

    Many Hats of a Mom

    I wear many hats…

    I’m a nurse,
    fixing scraped knees.

    I’m a judge,
    listening to the pleas.

    I’m a chef,
    cooking their meals.

    I’m an accountant,
    paying the bills.

    I’m a coach,
    teaching them to throw.

    I’m a chauffeur,
    taking them where they want to
    go.

    I’m a teacher,
    teaching them to read.

    I’m a mom,
    who wouldn’t want to be
    me.

  127. Marin Christensen

    I hope this doesn’t post twice — my apologies if it does; for some reason my original post didn’t work. (Wonderful poems, by the way, everyone.)

    Charlie

    I pushed him from the rear
    and pulled at his leash; My
    dog-sitting days I feared were
    doomed from the start;

    Charlie looked up at me,
    his moist brown eyes sad and
    large. Though the most rugged
    man would whimper at his sight,
    I knew Charlie was gentle
    (and stubborn) and sweet.

    At the bottom of the stairs
    reluctant to climb, I struggled
    with his willful might. The largest
    dog any had seen, at six feet tall
    on his hind legs, he could encompass
    a grown man’s head and shoulders
    in his fantastically
    massive bear hug;

    A giant who feared the basement
    stairs; why, Charlie, oh why?
    An hour or two passed as I tried,
    the sweat pouring down in my face;
    I’m only thirteen I pleaded with
    him, then I sat on the stairs in
    defeat, finally able to see
    through his eyes.

    And what did I see? No stairs at all!
    Backless and thin as a twig,
    all I saw was the basement floor.
    Epiphany! I ran up the stairs and
    left Charlie remaining there.

    Still cowering upon my return, so
    sad Charlie looked there; Then his
    eyes lit up and he licked my hand
    as I threw a quilt over the blanks
    of the stairs, and looked him
    straight in the eye.

    Hopeful that this was the
    answer, I waited and watched
    and wouldn’t you know, with the
    quilt securely in place, it was
    then that Charlie
    finally took flight!

  128. Callan Bignoli-Zale

    The Scar

    I have a tiny dent of a scar
    just above my left eyebrow.
    This dates back to the summer
    before I went off to college,
    most of which I spent working
    at the bakery of a low-quality
    chain of local grocery stores,
    and that’s where I got it.

    What happened was this –
    I was in the walk-in freezer,
    standing on a little foot ladder,
    blindly rooting through a box
    of assorted frozen crème pies
    when a pastry of some sort
    came covertly crashing down
    from what seemed like nowhere

    and hit me right on the forehead,
    and not only did it leave a scar
    but it also broke open and its frosting –
    which was about as cold as dry ice –
    left sugary white streaks on my face,
    and wads of dough affixed themselves
    to my ridiculous lab-coat uniform
    (I put my hands in my pockets later

    and found that even more pieces of it
    had accumulated in both of them).
    As funny as it sounds, it was scary as hell –
    the phantom dessert did try to kill me;
    I mean, it almost managed to knock me
    off my ladder and onto the unwelcoming
    ice-rink of a floor that loomed below,
    and as I teetered on my chilly feet,

    trying to find something to cling to
    in that cold messy half-lit dungeon,
    my life did not flash before my eyes.
    Not at all, but something did happen:
    I suddenly started to realize all sorts
    of bizarre trivial things about myself –
    like that most of my favorite songs
    have titles beginning with “N” or “O”

    and that all of my boyfriends
    have had monosyllabic first names
    and that my favorite hour of the day
    has got to be seven in the evening
    and that it’s rather strange
    that I don’t like syrup or dressing
    and that I’ve memorized the list
    of ingredients on Diet Coke cans –

    but that nonsense was for naught
    because I never fell to my death
    in that thirty-eight-degree room; no,
    that perilous pastry didn’t do me in,
    but every time I see that scar, I wonder
    if the only important things in life
    are the ones we never give so much
    as a short-lived second thought to.

  129. Christa R. Shelton

    SINGING SENSATION

    Heart pounding in her chest
    The overwhelming sound of fans shouting her name in unison
    Designer duds fitting her petite frame to a tee
    Hair coifed to perfection
    Nails manicured french style
    Feet laced in Ferragamo’s best
    Rehearsing the routine over in her mind
    Voice relaxed and lubricated from lemon tea and honey
    Musicians in place
    Background singers in tow
    Dancers stretched and ready to go
    She’s been here many times before
    and will be here many times again
    She thrives on her passion of performing
    but hates the high price of fame
    She knows her fans all adore her
    but really only know her name

  130. SaraV

    Joe and Rodney outstanding! Rodney my parents were both teachers and now as a parent boy can I relate to standardized testing, thank you for continuing to care. Joe, I did the corporate deal for many years and you nailed it perfectly! Thx.

    Enough to Know

    Sailing the Bay
    As teacher and crew
    We netted Sea Grapes
    And dipped bottles too

    I loved the sea air
    And to share
    All the marine info
    I knew

    But the groups
    Varied widely
    Some tame some wild
    And after that day
    With the destructive child
    Who delighted in squishing
    The Sea Grapes we found
    They were gelatinous animals
    Clear and round

    He smashed my heart
    Along with the critter
    And while I normally
    Am not a hitter
    It took all my power and will
    To not whack that kid until
    He understood the fate
    Of that poor flattened Sea Grape
    And that was the day I found
    I could never be
    A teacher of children
    Who act willfully

  131. Maria Jacketti

    Epiphany of the Telecommuting Writer

    In this fairy tale,
    I am the vocabulary muffin,
    cyber-cloistered,
    princess/ librarian/ word-witch
    in my own tower:
    certainly not ivory –
    it is made of pixels,
    nibbles of sound,
    hors d’ouevres, nut-nuggets
    of knowledge,
    or just information, globbed
    into a world mind,
    an electric jelly.

    Through the looking-glass, computer
    screen, I go to work,
    at the speed of bioluminescence,
    living half flesh,
    half light.

    Maria Jacketti

  132. Monica Martin

    Although not the best,
    Definitely the most fun –
    My job at Mrs. Field’s Cookies
    In a shopping mall.

    Acess to cookies and brownies,
    All the soda you can drink.
    Don’t forget the customers,
    And clean up after yourself.

    Bake the cookies,
    Decorate the cakes.
    Try not to kill each other,
    Or overdose on sugar.

  133. Don Swearingen

    Oh The Muse was there to help me as I tried to write my song,
    She pulled the words so gently from my heart,
    But I wouldn’t listen to her, and I got it all just wrong,
    And now she’s gone, and I don’t feel so smart.

    And I dropped out of life forever when The Muse just up and left,
    She smiled and tried to help me every day, every way.
    But I got mad and tried to kill her, and she left my heart bereft
    Of anything but emptiness today.

    She wore her blue silk dress each day and helped my song and dance,
    Her touch was warm, and I still see her pretty face.
    But I lost my cool and turned to murder not romance,
    And now she’s gone, and there is nothing in her place.

    And I dropped out of life forever…..

    Now I hear rumors that she’s back and helping folks just like before,
    I hear they greet her smiling face with joy.
    They’re singing, dancing, making things and writing stuff galore,
    But she’ll never even toss me such a toy.

    So I’m dropped out of life forever, cause The Muse just up and left.
    ……………

  134. Marcos Cabrera

    My Best Job

    I was a soldier, that was my best job.
    I started when I was very young
    rising from my cradle as volunteer
    before I knew that this was my career
    I was a fighter in the Vietnam war.
    The sadness of war by no means was fun
    though somebody needed to be out there
    even when many people did not care
    I was proud in doing what I was told.

    Like no other for me it was a task
    a mission that my thinking could not crack.

    From Vietnam I went on to see the world
    duties in Hawaii, Germany and Greece
    with the proudest smile and my Army green
    twenty years went like nothing at all.
    A retiree from many years ago
    I still enjoy the work from those days;
    traveling was good, benefits are great
    giving me the freedom to be my own.
    That was my best job, the roots in my soul.

  135. Teri Coyne

    Life at the Fort Pitt Museum

    For that summer in 1980
    I was a security guard
    making a little more than minimum wage
    taking tickets
    and protecting exhibits

    we were a mixed group
    college students
    working for tuition money
    and state workers
    waiting out their twenty years

    After our prep chores
    we gathered
    by the front desk waiting
    to open up
    no one was ever waiting
    our first visitors
    often arrived before lunch

    Rainy days were best
    the crowds came in from Point Park
    we caught people
    climbing into the life size dioramas
    of Washington pulling on his boots
    “what are you doing?” I would ask
    “I wanted to see if he was real,” they would answer

    For kicks we polished the glass covering
    Washington’s march to Fort Pitt
    until it was invisible
    then took bets to see
    how many people would bang their heads
    reaching for the lighted path

    The curator watched us from the cameras
    he told us he could tell if we were sleeping
    when he went out we found the places
    the camera couldn’t reach and napped

    Larry collected bicentennial quarters
    so we swapped with him every morning
    on payday he talked about going down to
    market square and getting himself a big ham

    Michael was divorced with three kids
    and a year younger than me
    he called me college girl and wanted to know
    if I ever shot a gun
    “you would love the feel of my pistol in your hands"
    he said

    On Fridays, I was promoted to the ticket
    desk and told to balance the till
    or lose some pay
    Mr. Hodgins, the curator, left for a martini lunch
    at eleven every day
    as he left he waved and said,
    “Hold the Fort down for me,”
    and laughed
    every
    single
    time

  136. Bill Toad

    Three occupational poems from the ‘Toad Pizza’ collection:

    I noticed a Maestro alone in a bistro.
    He conducted himself like a solo touristo

    ———-

    The sight, it seems, would seem sublime:
    To see a mime reciting rhyme.

    ———-

    I went to the pound to purchase a hound.
    Bought a pooch, paid the bill, then I headed for town.
    As I turned toward the door, a thought crossed my mind.
    I thought I’d explore what he liked when he dined.
    “Dog chow or biscuits or lamb, will he eat it?”
    Said the vet with a grin: “Pound cake’s what we feed it!”

  137. patti williams

    Lisa – flowed beautifully – wonderful poem.
    Earl – hats off – well said.
    Heather – one of your best poems.

    At some point, I’ll make my own stab at it. Right after I deal with a very mean 3rd grade PE teacher (Rodney – he’s nothing like you!)

  138. Iain D. Kemp

    Well I’ve already described my current job in the Location poem and talked about one of my restaurants in a song-inspired poem, so I’ve gone for a funny story from my first hotel management job.

    The Wrong Pastis

    Three hundred years or more
    The Hall had stood proud.
    Its stoic Tudor brick work
    And towering chimney stacks;
    Imposing in the beautiful English
    Gardens, laid out to be admired

    The Hall, an hotel for many years
    Was famed for far and wide
    Well respected for its food
    And lets not forget the cellars.
    Businessmen and tourists came
    And rich folk from overseas

    Assistant Manager sounds so grand
    For a job that was so hard.
    The hours long, the wages low
    But done with heart and love,
    And whilst morning dress was optional
    I always changed at six, into my dinner best

    A shooting party was to come
    From France to shoot our pheasants
    (It seems they’d killed all theirs!)
    Chateau owners, Ministers of State
    And hosted by Jean-Paul Ricard
    The one who makes pastis

    Charged with all their comforts
    I prepared a private lounge
    (No muddy boots please and don’t
    Clean your guns in the Great Hall!)
    A bar of course was needed and
    So I laid on all the best

    All but one thing that is, and so
    I searched the cellars deep, I searched
    The town and every Inn. Imagine my shame,
    Embarrassment! Presenting Mr Ricard
    The Other Pastis. No need for concern
    He said, I bought Pernod last week.

    Phew!

    As best I remember it was 1984. I do however remember shaking when I had to own up to this (I supposed) huge insult to my guest.

  139. Aaron Fagan

    DRASTIC MEASURES

    Each morning I set my lathe’s counter to zero.
    For each part I make, I imagine a year. Moving
    Forward or backward from the birth of Christ,
    History helps pass the time. As I go, I do my best
    Not to think in the small increments that make
    These parts possible. I can’t be ‘a hair off’ as I slide
    Out into the years where man doesn’t exist
    In either direction. It all goes back to tiny again.
    I was dead a thousand parts ago. It’s lunchtime,
    And I can’t remember if I had children with a woman
    I love. "There’s no feeling more accurate than grief,"
    I scream, but the machine is loud and I don’t know
    If I’ve said it. When the little ones came, which one
    Had hair approximately the same size and color as mine?

    AARON FAGAN

  140. Heather

    My Job

    Sometimes my brush refuses to paint
    Pen refuses to write
    Canvas remains stark white
    They get an attitude with me
    As if I don’t know what I’m doing
    And half the time, they are right

    I make a mess of things
    Wrong color
    Too much of the same colors
    Too thick
    Too thin in application
    And I wonder why I try
    What’s wrong with me?
    I should quit
    I don’t know the first thing about art

    Sometimes my brush whirls around knowing exactly what to do
    Pen pours out expression, line after line
    Canvas begs for color until perfection is met
    And I know what I’m doing
    I have to keep going
    Everything feels right

    I create magic
    Splendid variations of dark and light
    And I know why I try

    Art is my soul
    It is my life

    If you’d like to see some of my work my website is: myspace.com/heathers_art
    Besides painting, I do full home design, tile mosaic, glass on glass, and jewelry.

  141. Carol -Amherst, Mass

    Miss me When I’m Gone

    Hey there folks,
    I’m leaving this place
    In just two more weeks
    I’ll be outta your face

    I know you will miss me
    Oh, Don’t beg me, please
    I know you depend
    Upon my expertise

    Yes you will rue
    The day that I leave
    You all will be lost
    You will cry on your sleeve

    If you would just worship me
    And kneel at my feet
    And thank me and praise me
    And feed my conceit

    Then, I might reconsider
    If you ask me just right
    What’s that you say?
    There’s a party tonight

    You’ve hired my replacement?
    He’s planning my bash?
    He’s sitting at my desk?
    He’s emptying my trash?

    The door is wide open?
    It’s been nice knowing you?
    Why, attached to my butt
    is your size 14 shoe???

  142. Connie

    My “Job”

    When I tell people what I do for a living,
    they look at me as if I’m somewhere
    between a saint and insane.
    My husband and I are host home for
    developmentally disabled people.
    Our first was a teen girl with severe deformities.
    We had her temporarily—three months.
    Our second man was 58—a cutie.
    He used “Knothead” and “Bonehead”
    as terms of endearment. No one knew
    he had cancer. He died after six months. I grieved.
    Third time’s a charm and our third truly charms
    with a smile which would light up the darkest cave
    and with a contagious belly laugh. She makes
    everyone feel they are her world’s favorite person.
    She’s confined to a wheelchair, a very small one.
    She can’t talk, but she certainly gets her point across.
    Yes, it is work that is relentless and ties you down.
    It takes three times as long to go anywhere.
    But there are lots of advantages.
    I don’t have to go out and work nine to five.
    I can stay home and write—my true occupation.
    And on my lazy days when I don’t feel like
    doing a thing or I want to go out with friends,
    my husband takes over and I still get paid.
    We’ve had her five years, and now we’re getting ready
    to take on a second—a man in his thirties, also nonverbal,
    who walks back and forth, and you feed him as he goes by!
    He likes to use “audio-visual stimulators”, a.k.a. toys.
    Maybe I AM somewhere between a saint and insane.

  143. Earl Parsons

    Airman

    For twenty years
    Seven months
    And twenty-eight days
    I served this nation
    With pride
    And conviction
    As an Airman
    In an Air Force uniform
    Defending you and yours
    From all enemies
    Foreign and domestic

    Willing to go where needed
    And do whatever needed
    And however necessary
    To keep you free
    And to keep America number one
    In the world

    Willing to fight for you
    Willing to die for you
    If the need arose
    Because
    I love this country
    And freedom
    And you

  144. Maureen

    Vintage Years

    Barmaid would have been better
    but collecting glasses
    and emptying ashtrays
    in that sleazy club?
    I had to separate from my body
    for that job, hands all over me
    body parts digging into me as I passed by.
    Where once there was space to pass
    all of a sudden I had to squeeze through.
    And then there were the misogynists
    the ones who took great pleasure
    in ‘accidentally’ spilling drinks down my back.
    I relished the times I could escape
    to the kitchen to wash dishes.
    I used to fantasize about standing
    on the top of the piano
    with a machine gun
    and mowing them all down.
    It was the only way to survive.

    © Maureen Sexton

  145. Joe

    Friday Blues

    Incoming mail
    Incoming calls
    In come the consultants
    who say
    “Damn you all”

    Outgoing letters
    Outgoing staff
    Out go the bonuses
    Don’t make me laugh

    Up in the tower
    Cast in Ivory
    Cold, beady eyes
    Stare down at me

    They look down
    On my views
    Down on my life
    Turn your back once
    they’ll twist in the knife

    Cynical, surely
    I can’t help but think
    How I get through
    Some days
    Without having a drink

    It’s pensionable time
    I hear so many say
    They count on their fingers
    Til retirement day

    As for me, I don’t worry
    I’m still earning my bread
    But it’s Friday afternoon
    So I think I’ll play dead

    (Fyi, written on my lunch break where I’m from)

  146. Iain D. Kemp

    Aaarrgh! I´ve already written about two jobs this month under the guise of other prompts! Doh! Now I have to come up with a newy! There is this one moment that stands out in my career, hmmm…back later…

  147. Lisa McMahan

    My Hero

    Every morning
    He straps on his bullet proof vest
    Fits his gunbelt securely around narrow hips
    All hooked up and ready to go.

    Across the county line
    He goes 10-8 ready to begin
    Hoping for a calm and peace filled day
    One of monotonous paperwork and phone calls.

    This world is full of crazy people
    Just waiting to do the unthinkable
    Things unfathomable to a sane mind
    Seeing what he sees
    Keeps him teetering on the edge.

    Blood, gore, murder, death
    Violence, rape, loss of innocence
    Seeing things a person should not see.

    Just another day at the office
    The life of a forensics officer
    Dealing with the criminal mind
    Wondering if he himself is going insane.

    Robbery, theft, traffic accidents
    Fingerprints, DNA, physical evidence
    Pieces of the puzzle
    Yet to be solved.

    One mistake
    One minor error
    One judgment call
    Determining the future
    Of society’s criminal future.

    The stress, pressure
    Build and build
    Just one man
    Trying to uncover the truth.

    The day ends
    Just as it began
    Only more tired
    More skeptical
    One more days gruesome events
    Weighing heavy on his mind.

    Covered head to toe in the days work
    He wears a raccoon mask
    Only revealing the pain in his eyes
    Bearing witness to the crimes of our society.

    Outside the day will be washed away
    But the horrors seen
    Will never be cleansed from his soul.

    Later that evening
    Wrapped in each others arms
    Sleep finally claims his weary mind
    Until tomorrow when it begins again.

    My husband, my hero
    A blessing with a tattered heart.

  148. halfmoon_mollie

    oh how I hated
    that job just
    sit in one place
    and talk to people
    who do not want
    to talk to you
    they want
    their husband
    their wife
    their child
    their boyfriend

    just put me through
    operator, they said
    probably good I
    got out of there
    when I did

    just one of the
    many ways I am
    obsolete

  149. Rodney C. Walmer

    This was written a 3 am, the day before the new school year started back in 1995. It’s my favorite teaching poem, that I have ever written. I just woke from sleep, and ran to the computer and typed it, then went back to bed. I hope it’s ok that I post it here.

    A Teacher’s View 09/07/95 @ 3:00 AM

    A sea of new faces
    just waiting to embrace us
    Their hopes hidden from view
    riding upon the fear
    of the first day of school.

    Some will wear a smile
    talking all the while
    to anyone nearby
    the need to socialize
    will enter the Junior High
    on into the new grade
    reliving memories of summers
    last days
    Fears of Fall begin to fade

    Starting winters long school days
    means new classes
    each a new teacher
    with new rules to break
    Just have to find a way
    No task is
    that difficult to escape
    when bathroom passes
    are so easily faked

    It’s a new year
    with new fears
    a chance to correct
    last years mistakes
    and better yet
    an opportunity to perfect
    my better days

    With all this said
    It’s time to go back to bed
    So that I can awake
    and do my very best
    to make today
    no less
    than perfect in every way…

    © Rodney C. Walmer 09/07/95

  150. Rodney C. Walmer

    Teaching 2008

    What’s it like to be a teacher
    in the year 2008
    well, there’s a child to shy to participate
    but, there’s a way if I can on reach her
    There’s another yells out every chance het gets
    there are rules to raise ones hand
    but, he all to often forgets
    And the talking, it’s just not stop
    Though, the rules they understand
    to, them without consequence
    a rule’s just another stop
    on the way to living out their plan

    It would seem that today is less
    as more is not considered best
    Quality no longer the quest
    For education is all about just one test
    So, as I reach out to each and every child
    the only thought, I can have
    is how will he or she do on the statewide
    I am forbidden to have ever smiled
    so, those joyless feelings must stay inside
    Though, I am allowed to praise
    when a student gets it right
    unfortunately, I don’t often get those days
    leading to the headaches,
    I go to bed with each night

    What’s it like to be a teacher
    in the year 2008
    well, you’re a preacher
    and a follower,
    because you know what’s at stake
    Most often, a babysitter
    and though, you may soften
    your never a quitter
    because each child deserves your best
    your there for the children,
    so, you can honestly say
    screw the rest. . .

    ©Rodney C. Walmer 4/25/08 Prompt #25 about a job, my job is education, this is one of many
    many I have written about my job. I just wrote it today, but there are literally hundreds more from
    previous days, if anyone is interested.

  151. Elizabeth Keggi

    Hey there, Robert! Sounds like I have some competition for most number of jobs held by one person. Anyway, I wish you the very best as you wrap up the book. One of my many jobs was assistant copy editor, so I know something about those endless, aggravating details, and the satisfaction of a job well done and DONE WITH ONCE AND FOR ALL. All the best – Elizabeth

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