Laundry


I.

Left alone
(your teenaged reward for filial duty)
every Sunday morning

you hog all the machines
apportion the quarters
and divide the wash loads

careful not to mix
the whites
and the colors

while rednecked men gawk
and bouffanted women stare
as you separate

your underwear
from her panties
and bras

the man
in the white suit

is quick to don
your brand new
industrial strength
made of indestructible space age
patent pending fiber

a scientific breakthrough
intricate polymers resistant to
odor and stain

an ancient Chinese secret perhaps
invented to save the third world
and make you rich

in spite of doubts
widely believed of its fallibility
by the strange bedfellows
of unionized labor
and company management

to wash each other’s back
and preserve their way of life

from your Alec Guinness impersonation
running away for your life
head strong of hopeful formulas
to manufacture this perfect material
that comes true and unravels

as you MacPherson strut
far from the madding crowd
walking amongst the hoi polloi
who snicker and point
at your humbling nakedness.

II.

Next door
from my centrifugal
drama
of soggy denim
and cotton blend
two-tone jerseys

is playing
the celluloid
version
of my topsy-turvy
bleached world

every
Sunday night
jammed in
with the other colors
in between
Bruce Lee
reruns

Their only Chinese
connection making

you scream
louder than I do
in these hand-wrung daydreams,

rainy torrents
like acupuncture needles
that sting
even through the white
dry-clean only polyester fabric.

Sifu is missing
in hiding again
from the tong bosses

Hasn’t he figured out yet
that a flush beats a straight
any day of the week?

Is that what happened to his Camaro?
dragged from Lake Michigan,
a bawling carcass of snake-eyed chances.

even his spiritual force-field
can’t protect him from their wrath
or a bad hand.

The disciples know
in their drenched white robes
that to be so far away
is too late

even to get off
the muddy ground.

III.

The old black ladies
and their middle-aged spinster
daughters of the South

express awe
in your ability
to fold hot-air dried
King-sized
fitted bed sheets
without help
all by your
thirteen year old
self

using a simple
geometry
they fail to
comprehend

for Chan
is missing

out of breath,
gathered around the Zenith
all those fortunate Sunday mornings
without celestial commitments
watching Warner
(or is it Sidney) outwit

the masked man
into surrendering
a tarnished puny revolver
disarmed by his
lethal axioms.