“East Providence warns of layoffs for janitors, firefighters” (Laurence Stacey)



………………..pending layoffs
………………..the janitor vacuums
………………..a second time





“East Providence warns of layoffs for janitors, firefighters” (Providence Journal)

“Year in review: Unemployment rises, economy declines” (Cullman Times)


Poem by Laurence Stacey (see editor biographies). Read more by this poet.




  1. Chris White

    Great work Laurence!

    There is a strong tension in this piece after the first line – the janitor could be vacuuming a second time due to tension and mental distraction; either distracted through worry, or distracted deliberately as a means of putting the worry out of mind. Alongside this mental dimension, there is the possibility that he is doing extra work to look busy, hoping to make his job seem more necessary to his employers and thus increasing the likelihood that they will keep him on (or at least, he thinks looking busy will make them more likely to keep him on).

    In any case, this is fine work with a bittersweet irony to it :)

  2. James Tipton

    Yes, I agree with Chris. The first line has “natural tension.” Then, “vacuums a second time can be read a couple of ways.” I read it both as wanting to “look good” and as wanting to take good care of the carpet knowing he might not be there to care for it much longer.

  3. Chen-ou Liu

    Brilliantly penned.

    This poem reveals the middle of the story and its end has to be sought in the reader’s mind.

    Laurence, I love your poem. It offers a dreaming room where the reader is invited to fill the spaces between the lines with his or her own musings.


  4. Laurence Stacey

    Hey guys, thanks for the fantastic readings! I’m really glad this piece achieved the desired impact!

  5. Laryalee

    A well-penned piece, Laurence…so many people losing their jobs, and this lets me feel empathy for them. I sense that no matter how good a job he does, the situation is hopeless…

  6. Laurence Stacey

    Thanks Lary! Yeah, this recession is terrible. Many of my friends have lost their jobs :(

  7. Chris White

    That’s terrible :( In the UK the bookshop chain Borders (which I think you have in the US too, but the UK arm was bought out by someone here) closed down right before Christmas, on the 23rd I think, and all the staff lost their jobs.

    I have to credit them for keeping a sense of humour about it all though – I went into the shop to pick up some books in the closing down sale and when I got to the payment desk there were two guys stood there, one operating the till and the other putting people’s purchases into bags.

    When I paid, the man on the till asked me if I wanted a bag. I said no, so he turned to his colleague who was packing the bags and said ‘You’ve been made redundant’.

    The man packing the bags replied:

    ‘That’s twice in one week!’

    I didn’t know whether to laugh or not!

  8. Laurence Stacey

    Whoa! That is some story dude! Yeah, unemployment here has been on a steady increase. Particularly in Georgia where I live. Many of my friends have lost their jobs. What I find interesting though is that many other jobs have opened in diverse areas. There are many places that are hiring tech writers, which is part of what I do for a living.

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