The Vacuum Cleaner Quartet
from Chris Wayan's notebook, 1981
For three years I went to a psychodrama theater where I learned all I ever will about human nature. I gawked as caterpillars turned to butterflies. But when I stepped onstage I stayed the same.
I got a discount for vacuuming the place afterward, at midnight, while the rest went off to a bar to celebrate their new wings. I was the natural choice. I was a vacuum cleaner: things went in, but not out. So naturally, once the rug was clean, I wrote midnight poems fusing psychodrama and vacuum cleaners. Oh, I let it out.
|The Vacuum Cleaner Quartet|
1: Stopping outside Psychodrama on a Rainy Evening
Nothing - can be so Hungry!
2: Resisterhood is Poetful
Fulfilled. Full. Filled.
4. Ode to a Vacuum Cleaner
"Arise! You have Nothing, to lose!"--Karl Marx
Want to be loved? Be a Vacuum.
The peculiarity about Vacuum Cleaners and similar people is that the empty womb inside does NOT suck in objects as commonly supposed. They're PUSHED in by the air around them, air pushed by the distributed weight of the whole world's atmosphere. So a vacuum "attracts" things from all directions indiscriminately; the suction is not focusable in a choosy beam or stream, as can be true with nozzles spurting OUT, including a speaker's voice; the form of an outlet shapes the jet of influence a long way out.
But listening's a spherical act.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE (2001)
Obviously each poem echoes a different style:
Title: T.S. Eliot
1: Emily Dickinson with a titular tip o' the hat to Robert Frost
2: Robin Morgan or any earnest 70s feminist
3: Kenneth Patchen or e.e.cummings in that slightly elliptic fuck-you mood he gets: "Vac you all!"
4: Matthew Arnold? Plus that dash of Marx. 19th Century, anyway. Uh-oh! Maybe not. Maybe it's bad Milton.
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