Charwoman Calligraphy

“Art often isn’t [nice] though it scrubs the soul fresh”
– Jim Harrison (Day Fifteen – 28 Days of Unreason)

The scour of carbolic
Is the most China smell I know –
The granite stripping scrub
Of every lobby, bathroom, terminal,
Mall, subway, and hall without end.
As if under Communism
There is only one factory
For Janitor in a Drum.
It is the smell of Forward!
And Upward!
A poem of the Revolution
Written with mops
For brushes.


*With apologies to Colin Lee

19 thoughts on “Charwoman Calligraphy

    1. Hahaha! It is amazing though, everywhere you go here it is like blammo! no BS cleaner in your nose. Probably deeply carcinogenic, but what the hey…


  1. Two thoughts: mops for brushes and the Revolution reminds of the women knitting during the French Revolution. Mops for brushes is also an inspiration for next time I quail at having to mop the floor. Heaven knows what poetry can be conjured from a dirty floor!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I don”t know the exact smell, but you evoked A scent with the halls, malls, etc. I thnk my mom’s Pine-Sol is what came back to me. Smell and motion are the toughest, in my opinion.


  2. I really enjoy the way you activated the sense of smell here; different scent perhaps due to historical context, but that’s how it works anyway. And the cleanliness for Communism is a hoot! Try South Korea without the revolutionary smell! Fun write!

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    1. Thanks! I knew I would have a hard time with communicating the exact scent, so glad it worked to shift it over. I would love to go to South Korea, how long were you stationed there?

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      1. I was stationed in South Korea the first time for 13 months, the second time for 26 months. It is more… American… now that it was when I first went over… even more than it was when I left the last time to come home. Living there became an ordeal… not because of homesickness or wanting “things done right.” It becomes an ordeal, because no matter how friendly and accommodating the people were, you became keenly aware that you weren’t, and could never be, one of them. Just like any other place a person might visit on this planet.

        The food was good, though!

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        1. Agreed. Some very few people can sustain that, but full assimilation is elusive at best. I think the United States is a better place for that by far than other countries, but we too seem to have a shadow line that says who the “Real Americans” are. Which as we know is pretty funny unless you are Native American. But Asian countries, forget it. Not happening.

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          1. I don’t think there is such a thing as “Real American,” but I do think there are those out there who are really anti-American. What’s troubling is the number of them born and bred here. I’m a veteran, so when I meet them… have them in my face… I just smile and think, “Good thing I don’t have to rely on them in a time of crisis.”

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