Redemption, Little's Homestyle Laundromat
30 years ago, you'd put 6 quarters in the slots,
push in the silver lever and out would spit
a clear plastic ticket to place on the washer's tongue
a wafer cut from the body of a plastic Christ
to make it run, no clanging coins
like what you'd drop for Dig-Dug,
but some space-age advances didn't last.
We're back to scrounging for quarters,
and the change machine is particular about its diet.
Changer will not accept the five dollar bill
with a purple colored 5 on the back
but it will accept fives without the color.
Just admit it doesn't accept fives,
the old one is about as out of circulation
as a spinster aunt watching Matlock.
The floor leers up with missing teeth,
a hillbilly's stereotypical gaping yap
dotted with rat-sized chunks of lint,
gray with bits of vermilion chitlins poking out,
framed by walls and folding tables several shades of green
and spots on the wall unfinished by paint or particle board,
the unmanned management office and TV never on,
flat-screen attached to a cable box
and rabbit ears perched on a shelf
above a row of dryers, near a sign:
Do not touch the TV or the cable box.
A half-dozen missing machines expose
dusty tuber wires and a hole big enough
for a small child to fall into and be devoured
by Jim Crow dust: Old times there are not forgotten,
just particle-boarded over as ceiling fans
sashay across stained drop ceilings,
gravity only knows why it hasn't all collapsed.
Cash-flow, washer-on-the-fritz victims trudge in
among overstarched folks with fluffy comforters
Sunday morning, vying for the largest washer in back,
glass-eyed, hemmed in for hours by humming, barred windows.
Pot-bellies of shorts, socks, shirts, pants,
sheepish about their light filth, sweat, slopped ketchup,
arteriosclerosis - every impurity the commercials say to avoid.
Clothes spasm in large picture windows
to a state one could mistake for clean.