My final poem for Poetry Month. A tribute to people doing important, unacknowledged work.


Giants are the smallest men
As measured by scales of Job.
With poison scorn and fountain pens
They slash and jab to rule the globe.
In glass towers they strut and spit.
The height a craved collusion.
Fragility keeps them separate
In fantastical delusion.

For city smog mugs their glass
Dying skin cells dust book spines
Ink-stained downsizings fill the trash
And stains streak their ample Calvin Kleins. 

The humble arrive and quietly hedge
Their mops, dusters and garbage bins
Around the small mighty who can't acknowledge
That cleaners are our greatest ones. 
Hand with a cleaning glove, squeezing a sponge.
Photo by Anna Shvets on

6 thoughts on “Giants

  1. marianbeaman

    I try to acknowledge the sanitizers at our grocery store and those who clean bathrooms at the library. We couldn’t function well without these “giants” and I try to acknowledge them.

    By the way, you have what it takes to publish a poetry collection. No pressure of course, but you have what it takes, Arlene! Seriously!

    1. Arlene Somerton Smith Post author

      Thank you so much. It was inspired by the memory of a woman who came to empty the trash in a hospital room. I thanked her, and she reacted with such surprise that I too was taken aback. She was so accustomed to being invisible to people. I told her, “You’re doing really important work,” and she just nodded and left. I don’t think she believed me. And that, I believe, is a flaw in our society.

  2. karen

    Arlene, once again your ability to shape and craft language has resulted in another stellar piece.
    “with poison scorn and fountain pens they slash and jab…” bravo!
    (Loved the image at the end – the mighty rubber glove and sponge, our tried and true weapons against virulent intruders)


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