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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!
And as this Engine - lures the Air to Claw -
At every cell of Lost - beneath its Maw -
So - my Heart-Vacuum gropes -
for Motes - to hide in my old - Red Sack -
Drumming in back - of my Innocent - Look -

I seal the Dark Theater - step into Rain -
and Wonder - when the Rug is Clean -
What breeds from those - spilled Secrets -
Pooled inside - my yellow-Eyed - Machine -

2: Resisterhood is Poetful
Fulfilled. Full. Filled.
Feel full filled, full filthed.
Feel foul. Bag. Filthy bag!
Vacuum. Clean! Er...
"Oh my dear, what a lovely rug!"
3: the vacuum conjugations
      present indicative present accusative
      singular plural singular plural
1st: vacuous vacuum
2nd: vacate vacation vac you vacuole!
3rd: vacant vake up!
4. Ode to a Vacuum Cleaner

"Arise! You have Nothing, to lose!"--Karl Marx

Want to be loved? Be a Vacuum.
Goddess knows, you can make Womb.
So men under Pressure, who Weather our World,
who seem to breeze Free as Adams of Air
yet follow Prevailings, a Storm, a Cold Front,
come to you, Blind-prest by those Behind
to seek an open Mind like open Cunt!
Boast deeds, blurt needs, spurt seeds. Unloaded, go.
Slimetide climbs. Your bag replaceable? Hope so!
Natures adore a Vacuum: "Here I come!
Don't do a thing my dear, the Pressure's all Mine."
Play Dumb.

Or be the Frog in the Princess-Throat!
For endless In-Spiration cannot last.
And will the World or Lung or Love withstand
the Knuckles of that storm's karate Fist?
The Roar, the Blast of larynx of this Beast
Exhaling, howling, Truth too long Comprest.


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.


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.

LISTS AND LINKS: therapy - psychodrama - theatre and drama in general - work and workplace - privacy and secrets - shyness - gender issues - work - Emily Dickinson - a Frosty dream: God Sends Cash! - Kenneth Patchen - rants - poems - puns - tales of the waking world - Philip Levine's dream-poem on work: They Feed They Lion

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