Mr. Clean, Mr. Clean, for far too long
your shine’s kept me captive
& it’s bad for the skin: pores
the size of craters
plus you’re rearranging my brain
with your high, your high.
Your Highness, king of the squeaks,
of ice-slick floors, of walls bright as comets,
I thought you were some kind of genie,
supposed you a cure-all. I mean you have such nice eyes,
the wise, the nerve-settling glint, good-humor
gold as your earring & clear
as your bald, your beautiful bald head.
I never expected to fall so, not this
strongly, for your smile on the tube, your face
on the bottle. Expected only duty done, services
rendered: a kitchen Pluto-pure, a bathroom
Others simply left messes, grit or film,
& that made only for more teeth-gnashing
like the old-mud, the crumbs, the dishes,
the cig smog of past lovers, passing cats,
those old strays, friends.
What can I say? Nothing, no one compared.
You were entirely different, & obsession evolved—
A little dab on each wrist, behind knees, then
a passion of suds
in hopes you’d materialize—
& you did, you did—
Arms from the immaculate t-shirt, gentle but firm,
going going ‘round & who would have imagined
you were a satyr beneath the waist, that I’d touch, taste
those suede flanks the bottle’s picture never showed?
Oh Mr. Clean, we have to end this. Your luminosity’s too intense.
I’ve been burned sparer than paraffin & nobody else comes
as you’ve been coming, leaving the house blindingly white
with acetylene sheets, a strange den of iniquity replacing God, God even
for angels fear to tread here. You might pluck them for dusters.
You might prop them like mops, & I’m getting a little nostalgic
for randy clothes, for sweaty limbs. Yes, I’m beginning to miss quite a bit
the flesh, the stickiness spurting, & thanks,
thanks for taking this so well, you gym-toned Buddha,
you blazing Aladdin.
Stephen Mead is a visual artist, writer, and filmmaker. His poems have appeared in Ray’s Road Review, A Little Poetry, Great Works, and other journals. His suite of narrative poems, Whispers of Arias, was set to music by composer Kevin MacLeod. He lives in New York.
This poem is previously unpublished.