Rubber Gloves – N. E. Skull


Picture 69


For humanity’s sake, I hope not everyone can relate to this poem. I’m a messy person. I have no trouble admitting it, though I’m not proud of it either. I hate cleaning and would rather leave my house looking like a wrecking ball has just hit it rather than clean it. Which brings me to this poem. I often find that my main motivation for doing housework is so that, if I were to die suddenly, my house would be presentable for visitors to come and pay their respects. Ridiculous, isn’t it? I have to laugh at myself for doing this. I wonder if anyone else feels the same way?


There is dusting to be done when the vultures start to close in
It’s time to soak the mop when the air horn sounds
When the gas begins to leak, from outside I take the clothes in
And tidy them away before continuing my rounds. 

When the floor begins to tremble, knocking trinkets off the shelf,
It’s time to fill the sink with soap and water,
Employ tattered yellow gloves to clean the dishes, shine the delph,
In case the flames two floors below get any hotter.

All the carpets must be steamed when I hear the bullets fire,
Change all the bedclothes when the floodwaters loom.
Pressure’s on. Tick tock, tick tock, is it the red or blue wire?
Crash! Bang! Splat! At least I tidied my room.


15 thoughts on “Rubber Gloves – N. E. Skull

  1. I relate so much to this! I actually woke up in the middle of the night once when I had a nightmare that I might die, and did my dishes so my mum would not be embarrassed of me. Just in case. :/

  2. Order in surroundings brings comfort when a heart is in disarray, don’t you think? It gives a measure of control over the uncontrollable events of our lives. I remember vacuuming like a fool after the sudden death of my father, even with people stopping to talk…I just kept right on cleaning. Interesting and thought provoking posts. Glad you visited my site, so I know about yours.

  3. The secret woes of cleaning house. I heard recently that when we maintain a tidy environment it makes space for the sacred to enter. The Taoist’s call this Wu. Work in progress!

  4. Don’t know if you meant this to be funny… however my response was to laugh out loud, or LOL as we say in cyber-land. Thanks.

  5. … i just let FEMA do the housework, when it gets bad enough. Does society hate me? No. Rather, i have a large following of tired housewives and energetic children who like their sanctuaries to be ‘comfortable’ and ‘pre-messed’. The housework will never get done, as long as there’s poetry to be written…

    • Thank you, Steve! Delph is a rarely used Irish term for crockery that I wouldn’t even know myself if I hadn’t grown up hearing my father say it. I do think it’s a nice word, though.

  6. I like this! My motivation for cleaning is only when I sense my flatmate starting to get pissy or when I know guests are coming over. When the air raid sirens went off here I didn’t think about cleaning. We just made sure we had a bottle of vodka in the bomb shelter.

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