Early this year, CCLOW received as a gift a poetry anthology entitled Shop Talk. The poems are about work and are written by the Vancouver Industrial Writers' Union. We are reprinting here two poems as a way to express our appreciation.

“Who Looks After Your Kids?”
by Kirsten Emmott

"Who looks after your kids when you work?"
"Who does the housework?"
"How do you manage working those long hours
      with a family?"
"How do you manage with the kids?"

Well, there's their father, and a nanny and a
day care centre but they don't really hear, the
people who ask.
They don't want to know about it.

What they want to hear is:

Who does the housework? My henpecked
worm of a husband.
until four in the morning.
A Jamaican wetback whom we blackmail
into slaving for peanuts.
Nobody, we all live
in a huge tattered ball of blankets like a
squirrel's nest.

Who bakes the bread? Never touch it. Mac's
      Bakery. The pixies.
A little old Irish woman named Kirsten
      Emmott comes in every week.

How do you manage with the kids? I don't.
I neglect them. I'm on the verge of a nervous
please help me. I'm drinking heavily. I don't
give a damn about the kids, let them go to hell
their own way.

Who looks after the kids? Nobody, I tie them
to a tree in the back yard every day. My senile
old grandmother. The Wicked Witch of the

"Who Looks After Your Kids?": Reprinted with permission from Shop Talk, Pulp Press, 1985

by Erin Mouré

They are in the street boiling the sweat out of their clothes
In their houses scraping paint off the door to eat it as a meal
They are in the basement sleeping at work-benches after the tools are sold
They fidget
Social workers come in & out of their doors Their drawings are suspect
& their lists of groceries
too much love & insufficient macaroni
what is this

Do they think they can get away
Do they think steal, do they know the sad
night of hunger after the children are fed
Do they dream of jobs

They are the neighbours
Hello my neighbours
In this age there are more of us than there are soldiers
Still, if we cry out our sadness & break the government
will it turn us into salt
or food

"Neighbours"; Reprinted with permission from Donestic Fuel, House of Anansi, 1985, and Shop Talk, Pulp Press, 1985

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