Monday, March 26, 2018

Charles Cline


1. bathroom

down the tub drain with the toilet brush, digging and
angling in around and around and down and inside

then: bleach and water and
sponging the sides and rinsing and then
more bleach - straight down the drain this time

brush and sponges in the trash bag
the third one
the one
with the blood-reddened towels

2. living room

there’s no cleaning up that rug
God, no
that can go in
along with the lamp that fell, shattering, when he hit his head
and finally stopped yelling
along with the glass from the bulb
and the broom and the dustpan
that can all go into the fourth trash bag because
the third is full now
and it’s a big rug

3. final steps

from the back: mopping
mixing bleach in the bucket and
working backwards from the corner of the tub
across the tile and out of the bathroom and
across the living room, lingering
on the stain where the rug was and
across the marble to the front door, using
baby wipes for fingerprints
as needed

outside: everything else, into the trash bag
the fourth one
bending the red plastic mop handle in half to stuff it in
then: rinsing off, throwing in the clothes and the rubber gloves
then: change
then: bags in the trunk, on the tarp

4. disposal

head south:
somewhere - at a beach maybe - burn the bags
the ones with the cleaning supplies and
bloodied things

then west:
what’s in the others
the ones you filled before you cleaned the tub, you can
drop from bridges along the way
different bridges in different states for
the knife and the handsaw and
and after you’ve crossed the Mason Dixon
find another bridge, a small one
at the end of a Main Street in a small town
and give yourself a moment
to watch the slow movement of the clouds in the sky and
maybe have a smoke

then: toss in the rings
his and yours.

Charles reads "working backwards":

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Charles confesses: "The juxtaposition of methodically cleaning up after a horrific murder has always seemed unsettling to me. I approached these steps as a checklist to get at this tension in my poem. After I'd finished I realized it might also have something to do with the recent dissolution of my marriage."

CHARLES CLINE is a filmmaker, writer, and teacher. He recently completed his first literary crime novel and is currently seeking representation.

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