Saturday, February 11, 2006


People Who Take Care
by Nancy Henry from Hard (Musclehead Press)

People who take care of people
get paid less than anybody
people who take care of people
are not worth much
except to people who are
sick, old, helpless, and poor
people who take care of people
are not important to most other people
are not respected by many other people
come and go without much fuss
unless they don’t show up
when needed
people who make more money
tell them what to do
never get shit on their hands
never mop vomit or wipe tears
don’t stand in danger
of having plates thrown at them
sharing every cold
observing agonies
they cannot tell at home
people who take care of people
have a secret
that sees them through the double shift
that moves with them from room to room
that keeps them on the floor
sometimes they fill a hollow
no one else can fill
sometimes through the shit
and blood and tears
they go to a beautiful place, somewhere
those clean important people
have never been.


J.B. Rowell

Grandparent visit warrants
      black, pencil
skirt suit at school.
      Students gawk.
You look attractive
      they say surprised
then more third-grade truth,

You look like a secretary.

Later I ask,
      Why not the CEO?

What is a CEO?


you have to be ready for the inevitable
      and farfetched
in earnest or just to throw
      off the day.

A CEO runs the company,

      I say.

Into the ground,
      I think.

Making millions in the plume
      of failure,
while I run precious
      minds, lives.
I am there when the questions come
      that matter,
that can possibly nudge their lives one way
      or another,
and sometimes I say the right thing
      by asking
what they think.


Blogger reniebob said...

Julia -
Your poem reminded me of these lines in my favorite Sharon Olds' poem "True Love":

our children asleep in their beds, each fate
like a vein of abiding mineral
not discovered yet.

8:58 AM, February 12, 2006  
Blogger J.B. Rowell said...

What a great compliment - thanks - I love Olds. Can you post that poem this week?

3:06 PM, February 12, 2006  
Blogger reniebob said...

will do!

7:08 PM, February 12, 2006  
Blogger nancy henry said...

I'm very flattered that you posted my poem! The press that published "Hard" is Musclehead Press, not Juniper.
Thanks, though! Rock on!
Nancy Henry

7:58 PM, February 15, 2006  
Blogger J.B. Rowell said...

Wow Nancy Henry - glad you came by! Thanks for the publisher correction. Your poem is amazing - goes right for the hard, hard truth - I love the ending.
Thanks again,

11:36 PM, February 15, 2006  

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