★ ★ ★ ★


Image by Jan Kopriva

The Housekeeper’s Work Ethic

I believe in cleaning,
beating carpets, turning
the mattress, zipping down
screens to let winter’s
breath out.
It’s my faith, direction of a sort.
Yet how necessary to keep in mind:
stuff still piles:
letters of worry beads,
newspaper clippings,
telephone frets.
In between we share tips,
a creed against dust:
not to mix bleach & ammonia,
how dry bread crumbs remove stains.
My Mother taught me much of this,
scouring walls till her fingers
were puckered.
Water rinses the dirt.
Now I sit on the back porch,
have a cigarette while floors dry.
On three windows are paintings
I did last summer, each abstract
but human from emotional toll.
Weather’s starting to chip them.
Bring me a whisk broom.
I must be industrious, confront
the undertow & hold onto the world.
Oh domesticity, oh Jerusalem the Golden,
watch me starch, iron, redeem
all your violence.
Afterwards the marks will be nothing
save a challenge discipline purifies
& pride gently holds.

Stephen Mead is an Outsider multi-media artist and writer.  Since the 1990s he’s been grateful to many editors for publishing his work in print zines and eventually online.  He is also grateful to have managed to keep various day jobs for the Health Insurance. Poetry on the Line, Stephen Mead (


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.