adventures in dysthymia

Monday, November 15, 2010

On the subject of tankas (see previous post), here's a tanka-like sequence I wrote ten years ago about working alone at nights. It is, I think, an OK poem but not really very much in the spirit of true tanka. Nor would I bother these days with the strict syllable count I employed here (again, see previous post).

Janitor

a poetic sequence in tanka form

I vacuum this hall
in long swaths, not back and forth
as in the small rooms.
Burnt tuna smell fills the air;
I've sucked up another roach.

Dusting high and low,
my mind wanders here and there,
dreaming many dreams.
I may think I've missed something
but go back to find it done.

I find disorder
or papers in neat stacks by
pictures of children.
I never see these people
but know each one by his desk.

It's a moment's work
to clean dirty coffee cups,
left our once again.
But if I do it this time,
they will always forget them.

Each basket's emptied
into my can and replaced
to hold tomorrow.
Sometimes, an open drink spills;
then I have to rinse it out.

Take care not to bang
into furniture with mop
or vacuum cleaner.
I already get the blame
for enough things around here.

A note will be left
on this desk or that, asking
please do or please don't.
I try to remember who
wants what but usually can't.

Late at night, no one
hears me if I sing at work
or talk to myself.
My voice is good company
in the hours after midnight.

All the doors are locked
when I arrive; I keep them
locked until I finish.
I make my round carefully,
locking myself out again.

Stephen Brooke ©2000

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