light, Pantoum, Poetry Friday


Spider web in branches
“Is that a spider’s trapeze swaying from the ceiling?” (Photo by Violet Nesdoly)


Women’s work is never done…
The burner rings are caked with overflow.
Is there anything to eat?
Mom, there are no clean socks.

The burner rings are caked with overflow.
Is that a spider’s trapeze swaying from the ceiling?
Mom, there are no clean socks, and
We’re running out of milk.

Is that a spider’s trapeze swaying from the ceiling?
Please drive me to the mall, you said
We’re running out of milk.
I fell. It’s bleeding!

Please drive me to the mall. Oh no,
You forgot to load the dishwasher.
I fell. It’s bleeding!
Does this fridge smell?

Who forgot to run the dishwasher?
I think I paid that bill.
This fridge does smell.
I’d swear there’s something sticky on the floor.

I know I paid that bill.
Vacuum and dust, Company’s coming!
Mop up that something sticky on the floor.
These library books are due.

Vacuum and dust! Company’s coming –
Is there anything to eat?
These library books are overdue …
Women’s work is never done!

© Violet Nesdoly


I see that today our Poetry Friday hostess is sharing a pantoum she wrote as part of a seven-pantoum challenge! What fun.

I love pantoums. That’s the form of the poem, above. The first one I ever read was “Julian at Ten” by Nelson Bentley. It was in the book Writing Personal Poetry (by Sheila Bender), and I was mesmerized. How did he do that—get that back-and-forth, swaying, sashaying sensation with words?

I tried my hand at writing one soon after. “Complaint” is probably the second one I wrote, written  some years ago now. I think I was already out of the thick of those mother-always-on-call years but they were still fresh in my mind.

Poetry Friday LogoThis post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Laura Purdie Salas at Writing the world for kids.

18 thoughts on “Complaint”

  1. You captured all that is hectic and demanding and neverending about a mother’s daily life. Wonderful poem — you used the pantoum form to good effect. 🙂


  2. Violet, I love your poem and the picture. Pantoums require the. Right subject and you’ve certainly captured it in your poem. I admire your writing. Thank you for sharing you r work.


  3. Hey, another pantoum!
    It’s a hard form for me, but I love that it goes back and forth, the push-pull of the words giving it a slightly fretting feel. It works well for the topic!


  4. Thank you so much, all! I agree with Joy that not every subject lends itself to a pantoum. I’ve heard it described as the poetry of obsession, and motherhood has its moments of obsession, not to speak of repetition. I’ve sure enjoyed the pantoums of the other six Laura Salas mentioned.


  5. Oh, this is wonderful! It brings back such memories of when my kids were littler, though something the housework and minutiae of life haven’t diminished at all even without them wanting to be driven somewhere! I love the spider’s trapeze (awesome photo). How fun to find another pantoum in my PF wanderings:>)


  6. Love pantoums! Love spider webs with morning dew! Love that I am not a part of that pantoum’s life now…ah, retirement! Nice to reminisce on those days, sitting back and watching all that activity!


  7. I agree with everyone else that this is a perfect match of form and theme. I’ve never had my own kids, but kept four under age 8 this weekend and thought the laundry would never end. Hat’s off to mothers everywhere!


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