Is it Tuesday? Every Tuesday a new poem appears in the box and on the blog.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Poem 10--by Matt Mauch

Passing (nee praising) the laundromat (Grand and 36th) my head unbloodied as it is unbowed  by Matt Mauch

This week we have another local poet, Matt Mauch, who lives just up the street and teaches at Normandale Community College.  His book of poems, Prayer Book, was published by Lowbrow Press in 2010. 

This poem, "Passing (nee praising) the laundromat (Grand and 36th) my head unbloodied as it is unbowed" is a poem of praise and a poem of place.  In some way reminiscent of Neruda's Odes,in this poem the speaker praises the socks he sees in a woman's hands as she holds them up in the simple domestic act of folding clothes.  The speaker is passing quickly on his bicycle, and in his brief glance at the domestic scene in the laundromat, he is reminded of his grandmother, of the labor of women, of the ways lives in cities are simply glimpses, from which we create stories for ourselves.  

As when viewing a movie filmed in Minneapolis, I find myself smiling in recognition at the laundromat there, one I pass nearly every day on my way to the Y.  Have I ever looked inside to see who is there, cleaning their clothes?  Have I ever taken the time to wonder at the ways my life glances up against the lives of the people in the laundromat?  And what an unexpected turn the poem takes, in the 4th stanza when the socks become a grandmother's eyes.  Note, too, that as the poem becomes more interior, as the speaker meditates on the possible meaning of this scene, the poem fills with "i" sounds: bike, crying, why, I, fly, ride.  In the end, the speaker suggests that he has taken on the task of flight for the woman, for the ghosts, whom he leaves in the laundromat, while he goes on, to ride and to write.

Passing (nee praising) the laundromat (Grand and 36th)
my head as unbloodied as it is unbowed

                                                                                          By Matt Mauch

A pair of brown socks

held above the basket
by a short brown woman

to the window
to see if they match

aren’t socks
but the eyes of my grandmother.

You can see (only) so much
from the saddle of a bike.

A pair of blue socks
held up next are crying.
I’ll never know for whom, nor why, nor which ghost’s
eyes produce cerulean tears.

I wave at the socks:
another example of how the dead and I
envy each other.

The short brown woman
is a butterfly

unable to fly. I ride away,
her only wing.

Matt Mauch, in addition to teaching full-time,is the creator and ringleader of The Great Twin Cities Poetry Read and Road Show, which will be held on Saturday, April 21 at Hamline University.  He also edits Poetry City USA.  For more on these projects go to:

And go to the reading on Saturday night!  Matt runs a great show.

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