A dirty shirt rinsed in whiskey
and put into a hot drier, then forgotten;
coming out still dirty, smelling of booze,
and more wrinkled than ever.
I had entered Richard Brautigan’s houses,
cabins, hotel rooms, apartments
and not only gone through his filthy laundry,
but tried it all on, piece by piece
Writing is laundry (is this a poem within a poem?)
When all the shirts have been washed,
dried, and hung. After the socks cleaned and matched
put into drawers; still a dark bundle remains
That bundle is the writing. Where does it come from
how does one sort, wash, and dry it without shrinking
the silk, without ruining the beauty and warmth of a
thick woolen sweater?
How does one sort and fold, compose and edit and
bring into focus those thoughts, these words
these glimmering details that went unseen before you
threw them into the wash and hung them
to dry in the moonlight ?
Brautigan washed and hung and folded each word.
He kept the ironing to a minimum and didn’t use starch.
His words were free of fabric softener.
Richard was a dedicated man,
to his metaphorical laundry, if little else.
He washed and folded every day, then went
out and burned through the other parts of life
The hours spent alone with his soap and water
were his most vulnerable
what came of that time looks so quick and easy
giving the impression of a lack of seriousness.
Craftsmanship is what goes into creating the soft folds
in a freshly laundered shirt, that when worn doesn’t show
that the shirt had ever been folded or that it had been
anywhere but hanging beautifully on your skin.