John Homan

Link to home pageLink to current issueLink to back issuesLink to information about the magazineLink to submission guidelinesSend email to

The Lab Technician...

somewhere there is a lab technician
working in a nondescript building
an anonymous cog in
research and development
adding colors to floor cleaners
& new scents to urinal deodorizers

no one wants to hear about their job
they'll never be famous
their reward is good money
decent benefits
& low expectations

they have grudgingly accepted
the world won't care
when they're gone

after morning coffee
I stand at the urinal
hints of autumn pears,
spices & floral tones
not overwhelming-still crisp & subtle  
like a fine wine.

the smell of multiple visitors
before me is gone
thanks to a flower shaped gel insert
blooming in the porcelain below

I've just cut the ribbon
on the luxury urinal grand opening
going where no man has gone before
as the auto flush engages

during my lifetime I've pissed   
on pine trees & sagebrush
in truck stops & waffle houses
government offices & Applebees.

once I pissed in a metal trough
bolted to the wall outside
a Costa Rican cantina
next to a dairy farm
the cows judging me as
somehow lacking  
in their languid eyes.

once I pissed in a Mexican gas station
the sign said under construction
but looked more like it had been  
hit by a rocket propelled grenade

a chaotic appearance
& unforgivable smell
that caused me to despair
the very human experience

in light of all of this
I celebrate you
unnamed lab technician

slimy politicians,
self-important actors,
& autotuned musicians
all celebrated for
feats of marketing
thinly disguised as
great achievements

but you!
whoever you are!
this world is a better place
because of you!

beauty conquering filth
art overcoming the worst of us
because of your work in obscurity

as long as this poem lives
the world will not forget
what you have done


John Homan is a poet and percussionist from Bend, Oregon. He is a graduate of Indiana University. His work has appeared in Chiron Review, and John lives in Elkhart Indiana with his wife and two cats.