Plum talented
by Patrick T. Reardon

I look at
the toilet
and know the
nest of pipes
throughout the
building that
lead to and
from it.

I know the
shut-off valve
and the dip
and rise of
water through
the faucet
in the sink
and tub.

I push the
rodder where
It needs to
go and have
the right touch
to get it
around the
pipe turn.

I face down
shit. I wear
plastic gloves.
I clear clogs
because it
Is what I
do and am
paid for.

I change my
clothes to go

IMAGE: An outbreak of amebic dysentery occurred during the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair, resulting in 1,704 cases of illness and 98 deaths. Faulty plumbing at a Chicago hotel had polluted the hotel’s water supply, causing the illnesses. After the epidemic erupted, this poster was issued to promote safe and sanitary plumbing practices. (SOURCE:

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: There are so many skills that I wish I had, such as dancing, speaking French, playing first base for the New York Yankees, giving birth, running fast, painting (art and walls both), Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance, playing the guitar (or any musical instrument), brain surgery, singing, acting, sailing and myriad others. I suspect, though, that I’m worst at dealing with plumbing.

Reardon.for skill

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patrick T. Reardon is the antonym to the word “plumber” or, for that matter, “handyman” or even “handy.” He has learned how to put words down on paper and on screen and has done so in essays, newspaper and magazine articles, books, poems and grocery lists, often for pay (except for those grocery lists).

AUTHOR PHOTO: Wearing a Yankee jersey is as close as Patrick T. Reardon has gotten to playing first base for the Yankees, but it’s closer than he’s gotten to being able to cope with plumbing.