Poems from a

                                                    This work is dedicated to anyone
                                                    who works for a living,
                                                    doing things they'd rather - not.

`                    Copyright 1998 by R. Gui Le Blanc (both photos and poetry).  Scanned and published in 1999 by Hoeffmeir Publishing Company.  All rights reserved.  Close before striking.  Beware of falling rocks.  Get that gazelle out of my trousers.  Be kind to small animals...while anyone's watching...close before striking...

                                     environmental maintenance
                   I'm just a janitor.
                   Is that
                   so hard to say?
                   Is that so
                   hard to do?
                   Well, not if it's transitional;
                   but there's an art
                   to doing anything for very long...
                   and there's tact
                   in dealing with the
                   names they call you.



                      One more night;
                       one more poem;
                       one more dream;
                       one more joy...
                       and still I
                       push a broom.

                       Clean the mirrors;
                       shine the glass.
                       It sparkles, see?
                       and reflects back at me;

                       And I can see myself
                       as others will see -
                       But, no;
                       it is reversed,
                       this image
                       I sought to be.

                                               Polish that chrome
                        and shine that steel.
                        Don't let the iron rust
                        and keep the floors clean.

                        Waste your time
                            doing menial tasks
                        while we pretend to do more.

                        For, though it seems
                            your dreams are stifled,
                        in reality,
                            your disillusionment
                                is spared.

                    If a man is fortunate,
                    he leaves his footprints
                    'cross the sands of time...

                    then tracks them through
                    the lobby
                    and some poor schmuck
                    has to clean them up.

                 Here we go again;
                 solving the problems
                        of the world
                 in one short coffee break.
                        "It's all those guys in charge!
                They aren't like us."

                And all agree
                        for break is brief
                        and understanding
                        takes time.
               Anger comes more easily
                       with blame directly
                       on its tail.
               But bosses and politicians
                       are like us;
               Just working slobs
                       who make mistakes;
               Just working slobs
                       like us.


                                              Alas Poor Widget

                     My widget broke today.
                     I stared in disbelief.
                     In disbelief, it stared back at me.
                     In disbelief, it seemed to say,
                     "How durst thou to widge
                         what ne'er was widged before,
                     and to mine use bring this end...
                         in failure."

                     And sad was I
                     to have expected more
                     from a thing that was all
                     that it could be.
                     And much perplexed was I
                     that my widget spoke to me.

Don't steal my mop.
You've got your own.
You take from me
        what I would give
                 if you would ask;
                 and yet you don't.

And why does it upset me,
        if the mop is not my own?
For, surely we are brothers
        each using what we need.

                                       The mop is stringy.
                    It doesn't cover well,
                    but it is all I have to use.

                    And so, I guess,
                    we make do
                    with what we have.

                    We may change tomorrow,
                    but, for today,
                    what else can we do?

                                              Do not remove the dirt,
                        cover it over;
                        grind it in,
                        and make it shine;

                        and the shine
                        is what people notice.
                        They will not see
                            the dirt beneath.

                                        Our love
                     will know its bounds,
                     dear one.
                     Our lives
                     will have to end;
                     but this floor
                     will still get dirty
                     long after
                     I am gone.

                        Life should have
                        to keep your chosen path
                        from closing in your face;
                        maybe your arms are full
                        and when the door hits
                        you drop things all over
                        the floor you just waxed...

                        Life should have doorstops.

                    A phillip's; a phillip's;
                    my kingdom for a phillip's.
                    It is easier for a camel
                    to pass through the eye
                        of a needle,
                    than to find the proper
                    No, I'd rather have
                        a rum and coke;
                    and, no, I definitely
                        don't want to go straight.
                    I guess I'll use a knife.

                    For some worthless trinket,
                    we must search through
                            this dumpster.
                    Such is life;
                    a pawing through refuse
                    (an unpleasant task at best)
                    as we search
                    for some
                    to make it all

                        Toilet brushes;
                        so are workers
                        of the world;

                        Extensions of
                        the wills of others.

                        where their hands
                       would never touch.

                        The task is oft defined,
                        but we must
                        touch the porcelain.

                        The drain is clogged;
                        my future's stuck.
                        Like bilge water
                        it sits and waits
                        for something to act upon it
                        and leaves a slimy
                        residue when at last
                        it finds its way.


              Off the Rack

                   Desolate kingdoms
                                by before me;
                   armies tremble at my feet,
                   yet my goldfish die to spite me
                                and my trousers
                                fail to fit me right.

                           Artificial Light

                Artificial light is so dim
                    after time spent in the sunshine.
                City air is so stifling,
                    even through an open window.

                I want to touch the sky;
                not just look at it.

                I want to be a leaf,
                which falls to the ground
                    in autumn.


                    Paycheck short again.
                    I resign myself
                             to work for Fridays.
                    Can't they even go right?

                    They'll make it up next week.
                    So my bills will be late.
                    Will they pay the fee
                             at work?

              Dust bunnies?

              They roll across the floor
              reminiscent of a sci-fi flic.

              They grow
              with each gust of ventilation
              and soon
              we'll be their slaves...

              alone I must
              stand and face them.
              Where's Steve McQueen
              when you need him?

                    Friday night pizza;
                        is that all there is?
                    Would it be best
                        to have a care
                    haunting me day and night?
                    To pretend...
                        I do something more
                    than help the world go 'round
                    by working, keeping busy
                    and buying Friday night pizza.
                    Is there more?
                    Pass me a beer.

                    Pick up the dirt
                        from yesterday.
                    Clean up the memories
                        of the past.
                    They say that one
                        cannot change the past...
                    Whatever do they mean?
                    People change it all the time.
                    We change the way
                        we tell it.
                    We change the way we
                        feel about it.
                    We even change what
                        we believe is true.

                                               Watching women;
                        Buffing floors,
                        No, not the women;
                        I'm doing the buffing.

                        I wonder
                        where they're going
                        and whom they're going

                        We smile,
                        but they walk by;
                              too quickly-
                              much too quickly.

Water, running
          like the years;
so fast, so many
          pass me.
Through my fingers
          does it fall,
          and onward
          down the drain...

                    The attitudes
                        of strangers;
                    not near as strange
                        as attitudes
                            of friends.

                    For, strangers know
                            no better
                        and rely only
                            on their past
                    to say what they perceive,
                    but friends
                    have taken information
                    you have given them
                    and taken it another way
                    so that they think of you
                    as strangers.

                    Time to go,
                    time to stay;
                    Punch the clock
                    and ask permission.
                    Time is not your own.
                    Life is not your portion;
                    but who owns this thing
                    we work for
                    and why
                    should I care?

                        Bombs bursting in air,
                        above ceilings
                        collapsing from just
                        vibrations and the stress,
                        signal devastation
                        (at whose hands it doesn't

                        I ain't cleanin' this up!

           Down on the Floor, Man,
                 Floorman Blues

                    Hawlin' cans; washin floors;
                    swattin' flies and fixin' doors...
                        This ain't no kinda -
                                ain't no life for me.
                    I got those down on the floor,
                            man, floorman blues
                    and these floorman blues
                    are gonna change my life
                                            real soon.

                    Had no yesterday.
                    I'll have no tomorrow;
                    but I swear to the Lord
                    I'm gonna end all this sorrow
                        (that I got from these)
                        Down on the floor, man
                               floorman blues.
                    Yeah, these floorman blues
                        are gonna change my life
                                real soon.

    I remember, I used to work with a couple of guys, Frank and Billy.  Billy was short, stocky and a feisty little sort in his late thirties.  Frank was the supervisor, supposedly in charge of us.  He was tall, skinny and had quick and jerky movements. He was a braggart and a brown-nose and was generally disliked.  Billy, on the other hand, was perhaps self-serving at times and somewhat gruff, but good-natured and genuinely caring.  He was well liked by all.
    Frank and Billy didn't like each other much, nor did they trust each other.  Consequently, they worked with each other quite a bit, just to keep an eye on each other and play the occasional prank.  So they were working together this night in the morgue (We all worked at a hospital at the time).
    When a patient expired, orderlies would bring the body to the morgue, place it in a cooler and the body would be picked up by a mortician.  The empty tray (on which the body had lain) would then be cleaned by members of the janitorial staff, which consisted of, among others, Frank and Billy.
    Anyway, Frank and Billy, arguing as usual, were summoned to the morgue to clean a tray.  Frank leaned over the opened cooler in order to grasp the far end of the tray.  The opportunity before his eyes was too enticing for Billy to resist.  Billy deftly took advantage of Franks misplaced center of gravity and nudged Frank into the tray as the door was slammed shut.
    The trapped and terrified Frank pounded, yelled and generally panicked.  The security officer present doubled over in laughter.  Billy went to break.
    The security officer eventually gained control of himself and let Frank out.  Billy got a three-day suspension and lost nearly one hundred and twenty dollars (it was a high-paying job). Billy didn't mind, though, he enjoyed the vacation and the rest of the staff chipped in and Billy wound up with about three hundred bucks for what was generally considered to be a damned good idea.

                    (I got)
                    No yesterday;
                    No tomorrow;
                    But I'm gonna
                     live my life right -
                        right now.

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