I’ve been badgered into it,
the hole, the pit, a basement
cleaning project seventeen
years in the making.
I begin vacuuming cobwebs
overhead insulating the floor
joists. Unfinished basements
are nests, attics underground.
Plastic garbage bags and cans
brim with the toxic residue of
human hoarding, bottles of unknown
liquids, rusts and molds, corroded
crap unreadable as unlabeled
mason jars from a cellar. Yellowed
bedding and sour pillows bagged
for abandoned animals on death row.
Boxes of vases, knickknacks, pots
and pans, Tupperware, a water
filter and serenity fountain, used
books and old magazines collected
for the yard sale—my wife’s scheme.
Camping gear over forty years old,
my repair kit in a Prince Albert can,
Zig Zag wheat straws and a Bic
lighter, the old clay pipe stashed
on a top shelf by the triple beam
balance scale used for years to
measure and sell lids of weed.
It was given to me by an Abbie
Hoffman lover who stole it
from the School of Mines—now
he worships Bill O’Reilly’s mouth.
Boomboxes and blenders, door
latches, mirrors, boots and shoes,
curtains, throw pillows, and lots
of clothes, lots and lots of tight
womens’ clothes. There is no end
to this deep-mess chore . . . yet
the arrival of my son in two weeks
just two days after this scheduled
garage sale sends me back down
there with more rags and bags . . .
a determined mind keeps prodding
me from behind, wonders casually
aloud from the ether upstairs,
How’s it going down there? And
the badger snorts a gritted-teeth
grin, hisses, “What the fuck
would you know about it?” I yell,
“WHAT?!” . . . How’s it going?
“It’s going out the fucking door!”
That’s good! she sings. “YEAH!”
I chide scrubbing a pile of dried
puke from the cement floor
before cleaning the cat boxes
and hauling more shit up and out
to the mound in the alley. I open
a beer, guzzle half, go back to
sweeping, dusting, mopping
and moping. Of course, in the end,
I have to admit that I do like
the look of it—open, clean, bare
like white space on the page—
I smile. This is my poem today.