Zhu Yufu

by Craig Shay

Detergent bottles are empty –

Somewhere  gods
are dispelled

A stocky woman at the other end of the Laundromat
has on a T-shirt of a large face

I can’t make out
whose face
either Jim Morrison
or Jennifer Lopez –

I love Hispanic dialects –

So musical – so vibrant

that heavy ‘p’
as in pueblo or puerta –

I am reading something
off the internet

a poem
by Zhu Yufu

“It’s time” he says –

Everyone at this Laundromat
sits more-or-less comfortably,
some in Comtek Vending
relaxation massage chairs

even toddlers,
rest peacefully in their strollers


Laundromat waiting,
separates the classes

people with money
do not wait –

I want to start
a manuscript of poems titled:                   

Songs from the Laundromat
or The Music of the Laundromat

La lavandería en el cielo

But my mind keeps coming back

to this poem –

and the poet Zhu Yufu,

probably being tortured this very second
while we wait for laundry –

Those poetic thoughts
keeping his mind steady
on long nights

when the howls of men
walk casually through cell walls –

Why incarcerate a man over a poem?

His body squeezed through
like a cricket caught in a tiny cage

Bloodied and

“Are you and I perchance caught up in a dream
from which we have not yet awoke?”

Chuang Tzu said that.

What would Zhu Yufu say
of plum blossoms   
this spring…

opening their delicate hearts
covered in white fur –

His wife said his hair
had turned completely white since she last saw him –

What can we say about The Square?

What does Creon say
to a shackled Antigone?

“And you dare disobey my law?”

“It was not Zeus that made these laws.”

At the Laundromat
folding our warm clothes

in “Pursuit of Happiness,”

happy not to be
trapped in the washing machines

Around me
I hear hushed whisperings –

Husbands lean in close
their lips beside their wives’ ears
the scent of perfumes
and fragrant dollar-store shampoos
trails through their nostrils

Excitement and fear
lodged in throats
as they stutter out


a live chupacabra was caught just down the road.

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