I can take the hum of a hundred dryers,
the washing machines' old wooshka-whooshka.
What's killing me are the women
wearing the last thing left
before they left the house, their snot-encrusted
urchins running like a siren's headache
up and down the aisles. One other male,
unacquainted with soap,

keeps the key to change machines
which never change a thing.
I call him Quartermaster,
keeper of these eternal chairs
of fiberglass we hell-bound sit on,
condemned to watch the Cyclops
chewing on my socks and underwear.

I'm moved to rise above the din,
to stand on a triple-load machine
and announce: "Attention, please!
I am not one of you. I have not bowled
since 1965 and have been known to write.
Even now, poems are faithfully breeding
on the floor of my car."

Ah, but I dislike myself for this.
I went to college in the 60s;
I should want to embrace my unspeakable sisters,
press their snivelling issue to my breast.
My Whitman, my Democracy, come back!

But then go the dryers, Hmmmmm,
the washers, Whooshka, whooshka,
and I know myself again for what I am —
clean, white, and redolent of soap.

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