Odd Jobs

Jericho Brown

 
I spent what light Saturday sent sweating
And learned to cuss cutting grass for women
Kind enough to say they couldn’t tell the damned
Difference between their mowed lawns
And their vacuumed carpets just before
Handing over a five-dollar bill rolled tighter
Than a joint and asking me in to change
A few light bulbs. I called those women old
Because they wouldn’t move out of a chair
Without my help or walk without a hand
At the base of their backs. I called them
Old, and they must have been; they’re all dead
Now, dead and in the earth I once tended.
The loneliest people have the earth to love
And not one friend their own age—only
Mothers to baby them and big sisters to boss
Them around, women they want to please
And pray for the chance to say please to.
I don’t do that kind of work anymore. My job
Is to look at the childhood I hated and say
I once had something to do with my hands.  
 
Copyright © 2010 by Jericho Brown. Used by permission of the author.

Poems by This Author

Another Elegy by Jericho Brown
This is what your dying looks like
Another Elegy by Jericho Brown
To believe in God is to love
Heart Condition by Jericho Brown
I don't want to hurt a man, but I like to hear one beg
Langston Blue by Jericho Brown
O Blood of the River of songs
The Hammers by Jericho Brown
They sat on the dresser like anything


Further Reading

Poems About Work and Money
A Situation for Mrs. Biswas
by Prageeta Sharma
Blues
by Elizabeth Alexander
Coming Close
by Philip Levine
Engines Within the Throne
by Cathy Park Hong
Hay for the Horses
by Gary Snyder
I am the People, the Mob
by Carl Sandburg
i am witness to the threshing of the grain
by John Hoffman
On Quitting
by Edgar Guest
One of the Monkeys
by Nicholas Johnson
Personals
by C. D. Wright
Po' Boy Blues
by Langston Hughes
Proximity
by Randall Mann
Song of Myself
by John Canaday
Song of the Shirt
by Thomas Hood
Testament
by Carl Sandburg
The Dance
by Humberto Ak'Abal
The Debt
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
The Eternal City
by Jim Simmerman
The Orange Bears
by Kenneth Patchen
The Telephonist
by Susan Yuzna
The Unknown Citizen
by W. H. Auden
The Whistle
by Yusef Komunyakaa
The World Is Too Much With Us
by William Wordsworth
Thinking of Work
by James Shea
Vocation
by Sandra Beasley