Tuesday Poem – The Slattern

The Slattern

She hasn’t driven her vacuum cleaner around the rooms;
the dust sits thick.
Piled up dishes will be taken care of – soon.

Hillocks of washing swell and lie in ambush;
windows are opaque with grime;
the fridge’s fruiting moulds are eager to be let loose.

Newspaper castles yellow in the sunny afternoons;
the bottle stack threatens;
a compost bucket barely contains its ooze.
Blue emerges from an ancient plastic tube
atop a slimy sink.
The slattern sings. Loudly and out of tune.
Blue vacuum cleaner
Image via Wikipedia
This is one of mine, originally published in Blackmail Press – the 36 inch bust issue.
You can access the other Tuesday poems by clicking on the quill to the left.


  1. I love this! Especially the rhyme – and I say this as someone who sometimes has problems with rhyming poetry, but all those lovely ‘oo’ sounds work perfectly.

    An absolute pleasure to read!

  2. LOVE IT. Reminds of the Fool in King Lear – singing while all collapses around him, and in his singing there is some kind of sense. And bizarrely, I was scrubbing sons’ rooms yesterday wondering how I could ever let them get so bad … and thinking how I’d feel if a reality tv show popped in and insisted on uncovering what you describe above … and I’d have to explain I’d spent too much time writing poems, playing the bass guitar…

  3. Terrific poem, Janis (have you had your nose pressed up against my window by any chance?!). I tell myself slight slattenliness is a good thing when it makes room for the things Mary’s listed – writing poems, playing the bass guitar, painting, gardening, feeding the birds, staring into space. Thanks – this brightens the day. C

  4. I can really identify with this poem, being a House Dad or stay-at-home parent (whatever is the current term). I am in a constant tug-of-war between what I want to do and the things I “SHOULD” be doing. And “Slattern” is such a great word, isn’t it? Like Hussy or Trollop. Derogatory words used to be more poetic somehow.

  5. Dear Janis, the poem has a lovely spilling over of things and sounds, but it ends up beautifully with the last line–what all of us poets aim for, singing–maybe out of tune or perhaps simply not listened to properly. And the slatternly list of things not done represents for me all the obstacles writers must overcome, that there never will be easy sailing, that if it isn’t one thing blocking our creativity, its another. I raise my hand to slatterns everywhere, to the slattern in each of us, who guiltily knows that art is the truest thing, and what we work and live for.

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