Cleaning (Draft 1)

Cleaning (Draft 1)

So you’ve nagged about cleaning
as if there’d be an honorable response

As I read through past papers
rejections slips, collection notices
more emptiness opens
between the torn shreds, and
I realize there is no honor in tidiness

Yes, you are happy I’ve
thrown out more bags
and put boxes in the closet

You praise and celebrate neatness
cocky that nagging has paid off
and I suppose that after I’m gone
the room will be beautiful

Yes, I am slow to unpack, read
and throw out unneeded papers

But I don’t suppose you realize
that when every bit of worthlessness,
every document of failure, every
silly piece of rejected script is
torn and thrown away after re-reading,
that the room will be neat and beautiful
as you would have it be for
the appearance of success, but that
the former occupant would be dead.

Yes, sure, tell me to unpack
throw away hope
put more things in the closet
let you be tidy and proud

Your house will be beautiful
when an accidental suicide is tidy
and neatly done, if the number
attending the funeral is sufficient;
you will be happy for the prestige

Maybe if the death is notorious enough
I can get more press to attend, and
boost the numbers

But really I will be so sorry
if a secret love comes because
I could never really be anywhere for her,
and maybe if she could cry at my funeral
she could have been my dearest stranger friend

— Douglas Gilbert