Fifty Cents an Hour and Zero Tips
by Alice Morris

It doesn’t add up — this five-month-old —
his tears, his fussing and crying when at ten
I’m a pro at tending babies, but
it’s my first paid job, so now, after
five diaper checks, twenty walks,
hundreds of soft pats, four bottles offered —
an hour and fifty-five minutes in — baby
delivers not one smile, spit-up, or
burp – this job that’s to last three hours
already seems like eight years, and I have
to call my mother — just across the street.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Age ten, early 1960s — confidently taking care of my youngest brother.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: While struggling, trying to respond to the prompt, “My First Job, ” I received another prompt about writing a poem using ten lines, ten syllables per line, with a focus on numbers. “It doesn’t add up” was offered as an opening. I did not adhere strictly to the form, but I used the opener, and as I applied the number suggestion I found myself, once again, experiencing the epic failure of what was to be my first autonomous job, except this time, so many years later, largely because of the emotions exposed through numbers, I was forced to laugh — just one of poetry’s many gifts.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alice Morris comes to writing with a background in art– published in a West Virginia textbook and The New York Art Review. Her poetry appears or is forthcoming in The Broadkill ReviewDelaware Beach Life, Silver Birch Press, Rat’s Ass Review, The White Space, The Avocet, and The Weekly Avocet. Her poems are also published or forthcoming in themed collections and anthologies, most recently Rehoboth Reimagined, The Way to My Heart: An Anthology of Food-Related Romance, Ice Cream Poems: reflections on life with ice cream, and Bared: Contemporary Poetry and Art on Bras and Breasts.

Author photo by Alice Morris.

4 Comments Post your own or leave a trackback: Trackback URL

  1. memadtwo says:

    My children still can’t believe I babysat for 50 cents an hour! (K)

  2. Alice morris says:

    Exactly! (More “evidence” for your kids.)

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