Thursday, April 23, 2009

Vol. III The Laundry Poem Unveiled!

The summer before I came out to Michigan, I attended a weekly poetry club that a few of my friends at BYU were a part of. I enjoyed it for the most part, and while I was far from the best poet in the group, it gave me good reason to try my hand at poetry again, for the first time in several years. Some of my attempts were horrible, long, clunky things, and I got some very useful criticism that helped me to trim my writing down a bit, to show more than to tell. I didn't write that many poems during this time period, but here are three of them (I actually published another poem from this period last year).

I. Breathe

Freshly cut grass
crunches beneath the soles
of my feet.

I feel the sound
more than I hear it.

And with every step a
soft spray of dew cools
my naked toes.

At last it is spring!

This one is not my favorite poem, but it's short and sweet, and appropriate to the season.

II. Madrid, 2000

I remember most the smell,
the sticky smell of twice-used olive oil,
of freezer-burned empanadas and crumbling pastry at the
edge of the plate;
the tepid smell of box-carton milk and pasteurized juice,
of runny pudding, jelly candies, gummy eggs and
cream, congealed in crisp-thin shells;
the pallid smell of electric light on sea green tiles,
of amber bars of soap and shower faucets on the
long side of the tub,
threadbare sheets and elongated pillows,
damp interiors and landings musty with the memory of smoke;
and the wistful smell of almost, but not quite,
is what I remember most.

I have heard that the sense of smell is one of the most powerful senses, and I find it interesting that my memories of Spain are all punctuated by scent. I really liked the idea of using the theme of scent to create a picture and tell a story. This is one of my favorites.

III. Laundry

She met him at the coin-op, where a casual
exchange about home and school led to
dinner with friends and a
late night chat.

Four years, twenty-five miles, and two kids later
they will sometimes break away from their family routine
to come say hello at a roommate’s goodbye, and
I will remember
gossiping with friends about
Laundry Boy, late at night,
and our own unspoken hopes as we made our way
across the frozen parking lot each Saturday morning,
hauling towels and t-shirts atop carefully
concealed undergarments in our
plastic Wal-Mart baskets, our faith renewed in
chance encounters and

Four years, twenty first dates, and two degrees later
my washing machine sits sequestered
behind the chastity line, where weekend routine
is replaced by absent-minded necessity
and sheets can wrinkle untended in the dryer
for days as thoughts of folding laundry are superseded by the
inconvenience of walking downstairs.

Usually I feel quite certain
that this is a much better arrangement
for everyone.

Yes, I am finally including the infamous laundry poem. Every so often we would be assigned a theme, and one week it was laundry. I thought this was sort of ridiculous, and didn't plan to write a poem. But the day before we met I actually did a load of laundry, and suddenly, the words just flowed. This is not a poem about laundry (if you didn't catch that) and it ended up being the hit of the evening at my poetry club. Of the few poems I shared with the group that summer, this may be the only one that anyone actually remembered.


Jess said...

I really like the laundry poem. It is the perfect blend of hope and melancholy a poem should have. In 8 months when I am several hundred mile away maybe, just maybe I will consider moving into a place without a washer dryer.

Brady said...

Good work! That's some great poetry. The laundry poem is classic. How do I join a poetry group?