Laundry

By Bruce Smith b. 1946 Bruce Smith
Not even the cops who can do anything could do this—
work on Sunday picking up dirty and delivering clean
laundry in Philadelphia. Rambling with my father, get this,
in a truck that wasn’t even our own,
part ambulance, part bullet, there wasn’t anything
we couldn’t do. Sheets of stigmata, macula of love,
vomit and shit and the stains of pissing
another week’s salary away, we picked up and drove
to the stick men in shirt sleeves, the thin
Bolshevik Jews who laughed out the sheets like the empty
speech in cartoons. They smelled better than sin,
better than decadent capitalism. And oh, we
could deliver, couldn’t we, the lawless bags through the city
that said in his yawn, get money, get money, get money.

Bruce Smith, “Laundry” from Silver and Information. Copyright © 1985 by Bruce Smith. Reprinted with the permission of The University of Georgia Press.

Source: Silver and Information (1985)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Bruce Smith b. 1946

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Money & Economics, Relationships, Activities, Youth, Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life, Living, Family & Ancestors, Jobs & Working

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Bruce  Smith

Biography

Originally from Philadelphia, Bruce Smith is the author of several books of poems, including The Other Lover (2000), a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Influenced by Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, Smith’s poetry moves like jazz, incorporating images and narratives into a startling, musically unified whole. In a 2007 interview, Smith explained his poetry’s aspiration to song: “When the language . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Money & Economics, Relationships, Activities, Youth, Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life, Living, Family & Ancestors, Jobs & Working

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.