They say you’ve “gotta pay your dues to sing the blues” and I’ve paid those dues—with sixteen years of calling senior citizens from my desk in Internal Medicine.  This poetry form, the BLUES STANZA, might be the most formidable challenge in your Poetry Challenge, Muri.  The rules are blurry and the end product seems like it ought to be crooned rather than read, accompanied by the world’s saddest harmonica.  But once I got started, it all just came pouring out. I tossed an extra rhyme in each mirror line, just for kicks. To family and friends who wondered why I never answered my home phone, I hope this explains it. 


I take call after call after call… as an office nurse
Gotta be calm and professional… as an office nurse
I keep a big bottle of Excedrin… in my purse

My snowbird patients are gone… in Florida until spring
No cell phone to reach ‘em on… down in Florida until spring
Their voicemail is full… their home phones ring and ring

Some patients live alone… and want to jabber on all day
Don’t wanna hang up the phone… just jabber on all day
Tell me their socks don’t match… and the mailman’s late

Book the next guy to see the doc… for results of his MRI
Poor guy’s in for a shock… looks like bad news on his MRI
Guess he’ll find out on Tuesday… if he’s gonna live or die

Lady calls, says she’s only got two… of her little pink pills
Needs her prescription renewed… for those little pink pills
She don’t know what they’re called… but she’s hopin’ I will

When I return from lunch… it’s overdue mammogram calls
Got me a whopping bunch… of overdue mammogram calls
By three, I’ll be floatin’ in excuses… up to my eyeballs

My ears and brain ache… after a long day on the phone
Had about all I can take… a long, long day on the phone
Gonna shut my ringer off… the minute I get home

12 thoughts on “I GAVE AT THE OFFICE

  1. Carol April 10, 2022 / 2:44 am

    Hi Joan,
    I enjoyed and laughed at your poem! It’s good for us to see the other side of the medical profession.
    I am fine, teaching part-time and just finished writing another very short play spoof about being old in Yellow Springs. I miss your good cheer!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan April 10, 2022 / 9:45 am

      Hi Carol! Glad you enjoyed the poem and you’re still making time to write. Will Steve be starring in your production of Old Folks in Yellow Springs? Take care and say hello to the Tower Group folks for me.


      • Carol April 10, 2022 / 1:10 pm

        Hi Joan!
        Unfortunately, YS Theatre said they had too many submissions and turned down my submission.
        Maybe they were offended by some of my language, such as “Another YS hypocrite!” re: YS’ers bumping into each other at non-local Kroger’s. Especially since one of them had a “Buy local bumper sticker” on her non-polluting electric Prius!
        Oh, and I laughed out-loud at reviewing some of your old posts, and at the thought of “shoving an unfinished casserole into the closet along with her other unfinished projects!”

        Liked by 1 person

      • Just Joan April 10, 2022 / 3:26 pm

        Sorry they didn’t accept your submission. I thought your bit about running into a fellow hypocrite (with a “Buy Local” bumper sticker!) at Kroger’s was funny, not offensive. Maybe that’s why we hit it off, our similar senses of humor. I think that unfinished casserole thing was from the very first poem on my blog. At her request, I made my sister a blog book with hard copies of all my blog posts, which she thinks is the best thing since chips and guacamole.


  2. murisopsis April 10, 2022 / 6:55 am

    Oh Joan you excelled at this one! And by excel, I mean crushed the living daylights out of the prompt!!! Yes you do need to set this to music and get a harmonica in there! I’m so glad you are not a cowardly chicken (but by being a nurse you are already braver than most) and decided that you could and should tackle this one (and you did tackle it and then pounded it into the ground, stole the ball and ran it back for a touchdown)!!!! ❤ ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan April 10, 2022 / 9:52 am

      Thanks, Muri! Pushing outside of our comfort zone is a good thing. “Lean into it,” my old therapist would have said. This one turns into music in my head; there’s no other way I can read it. I don’t know how to play the harmonica; maybe a sad kazoo would work?


  3. Tippy Gnu April 10, 2022 / 1:42 pm

    Uh, hello, I lost my bottle of pills,
    And I have lots of pain to kill,
    Do you give new scrips for those over the hill?

    Sounds like you must have had a lot of interesting phone conversations, with that job.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan April 10, 2022 / 3:31 pm

      If you lost a bottle of narcotics, like Oxycontin or something, you’d better check under your couch cushions. And if you tell me it was stolen, I’m gonna need to see a police report. Grandmas and Grandpas look trustworthy, but you never know.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. kutchie Kender April 10, 2022 / 7:13 pm

    ​That Says It All. But Thank Goodness You Were On The Other End!!
    Ursula Kender

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan April 10, 2022 / 8:30 pm

      Hey Ursula! I’ve missed you! Phone work was demanding, for sure, but there were a few bright spots (like you). Regarding the lady who needed the little pink pill but didn’t know what it was called, my senior tech said, “That’s an easy one. It’s her Correctol.” LOL.


  5. kegarland April 14, 2022 / 4:08 pm

    “Tell me their socks don’t match… and the mailman’s late” LOL This sounds like the convos I have with my 95-yo grandmother.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan April 14, 2022 / 5:38 pm

      They’re lonely, they want to talk. But I have a job to do, lots of people to call, and can’t stay on the phone long after we’ve taken care of business. They’d go off on a tangent about some totally unrelated thing, whatever they happened to be perseverating on at the moment, and then something else, etc, etc, and eventually I’d just have to cut them off. Sorry about your socks, hope the mail comes soon, gotta go, bye.

      Liked by 1 person

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