Written for Waiting At A Stopped Clock, a pop-up poetry reading held at 71 Rowell Road, Wonder Wash Laundromat on 7th August 2015, where the clock has stopped at 9.37.
Spin Cycle Meditations
Laundromats are always shiny. Like whitewashed walls bereft of the identity of graffiti, a blank page proposition of what you might become if you spin long enough. And if you come at the right time, you can stop the clock to pick up a date, finish a novel, or conduct a clandestine conversation with someone who might be a spy.
Next to Chinatown complex, parallel to Smith street, there is a laundromat; metallic and cold, unlike the clay crockery and Taoist offering shops that flank it. It stands with its rows of eyes, a bulging panopticon, swallowing a thousand dirty stories, spitting out clean, state-approved versions; softened and sanctified, darks separated from whites.
There are two old men arguing in a Bukit Merah wonder wash laundromat. As good morning towels churn slowly behind them, their words thicken with Tiger, full of old-fashioned expletives, wet with the rain. There is no one to hand out change here. Perhaps an altar would work better. Prayers to the god of pre-shrunk hopes.
The laundromat in Hualien, Taiwan has a photograph of a sexy white woman on the dish-washing powder box, but she’s not wearing enough to show how white her clothes are. Anyhow, the machine ate all our coins and didn’t spit out a return. Maybe we weren’t white enough to begin with.
A very large man stands in a Penang laundromat all by himself. He stares at the spinning drum like a roulette wheel, or some time-sharing kaleidoscope. Past midnight, when the lint drifts around like a broken snow-globe, he will read his future in the way clothes crumple to the floor, a tea leaf testimony of t-shirts.