Clean, clean, clean

Clean, clean, clean
by Linh Dinh
Belonging to the lower class, you’re expected
To cater to the upper class’ lower bodily functions,
Not to engage their minds but to wipe their asses,
Kiss their cunts on demand, suck cocks for tips,
Unless, of course, you’re an artist, in which case,
You’re an aristocrat of the servant class, to quote
That grand maestro among slaves, Jasper Johns.
I used to clean apartments and houses.
Showing up for a new job, I was greeted
By the mistress, “I have the most respect
For new immigrants. You work so hard!”
Down low, you’ll get a disproportionate
Low down on all things funky and nasty,
Nothing unusual, really, just shit and stuff.
I cleaned toilets and fridges, folded panties,
Got on all fours, dipped into the suspicious.
A young woman confided, “I moved to Philly
Because California women were so beautiful.”
She was usually home when I came. The spine
Of her soft porn book turned to the wall. They all
Had some smut in the house. This was before
The Internet made these sad and surreptitious
Purchases unnecessary. I found a teen-aged
Madonna in a closet, so I knelt and sighed.
A fat one lived alone, but once she said, “Sorry,
The house is so messy today. I had company
Last night,” and her face brightened angelically.

0 thoughts on “Clean, clean, clean

  1. It’s refreshing to hear people speak of ‘classes’ with no fear or don’t give a fuck about being labled a ‘socialist’. But the truth is swept under a convenient rug and as humans we have wont to ‘clean, clean, clean’ to make things right with that part of our brain/heart where actions are justifiable, necessary, noble, and just a part of our everyday pursuit of survival happiness.
    But the poet rightly identifies even a class within a class being of the lower class and explores this human tendency and quirk.
    i appreciated the vulgar blue-collar speak and enjoyed the read altogether. In the end, as the author illustrates aptly, people may not be in the same boat together, but we sail the same seas of the human condition. Rich people are just as fucked up or even more so than the ‘salt of the earth’ people. Everyone’s shit stinks–some more rancidly than others.

  2. By this poem, I don’t get that it’s much about class. It poses the question,”Are the zookeepers of a lower class to the elephants, lions, and peacocks they clean up after?” Class is how the narrator labels the bile that rises from the job they are doing. However, if it truly were about class, there would be an implicit sense that the “upper class” is simply delegating a menial task that is not worth taking time to do themselves. It’s not about delegation of responsibility. According to my reading of this, to hire someone to take charge of your care and feeding is tantamount to surrender to arrested development.
    The angelic face of the child-woman is appealing not out of apology for the extra mess but rather that she is aware she is incapable of caring for herself. I got the visual of the baggy face of a toothless lioness sorrowfully acknowledging her total dependence on the magical food tray.

Leave a Reply