American Life in Poetry
The Poetry Foundation

Library of Congress

University of Nebraska
at Lincoln
Ted Kooser
American Life in Poetry provides newspapers and online publications with a free weekly column featuring contemporary American poems. The sole mission of this project is to promote poetry: American Life in Poetry seeks to create a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. There are no costs for reprinting the columns; we do require that you register your publication here and that the text of the column be reproduced without alteration.

The poem in each column is brief and will be enjoyable and enlightening to readers of newspapers and online publications. Each week, a new column will be posted. Registered publications will receive new columns by email. Our archive of previous columns is also available for publication.

American Life in Poetry: Column 527

Seventy years ago, when I entered Beardshear Elementary in Ames, Iowa, the school employed a custodian, Mr. Shockley, who had for an office a closet under the stairs. I wish I could thank him for mopping up all our vomit and helping us buckle our galoshes. Here’s a fine poem about custodians by David Livewell, from New Jersey, whose most recent book of poems is Shackamaxon (Truman State Univ. Press, 2012).

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