“Drycleaners” by Dave Smith

Photo from Poetry Foundation

Photo from Poetry Foundation

I recently downloaded an app for my iPad from the Poetry Foundation that spins subjects and then displays poems that match the subject criteria. I gave it a whirl today and it generated a list of poems dealing with Gratitude & Commitment. The first poem on the list was “Drycleaners” by Dave Smith, so I gave it a read (click here to read the poem online).

For me personally, I wasn’t crazy about this poem. I think that it was because I could not get a sense of the rhythm or cadence. To me, it seemed more like a narrative slice-of-life. When I read a poem, I am specifically looking for a musical feel, and I just didn’t get that from this piece.

What I did like about the poem was the imagery and the emotion that was expressed. I have often felt the impatience described in the beginning of standing in line behind someone who is talking, rambling on and on about what appears to me to be senseless babble. But as the poem continues, it takes on an almost voyeuristic feel, where one is surreptitiously listening in and getting a brief glimpse into a stranger’s life. This brief glimpse is what stirs the feeling of gratitude within the person, as he begins to empathize with the woman sharing her story with a stranger at the counter. Often, when we shed our self-centered absorption, we have that moment when we can connect with another person and feel compassion for what another is going through. I think this poem captures that moment very well.

Poetry, like all art, is highly subjective. Just because the style in which it was composed was not my preference, that should not prevent you from reading it. I encourage you to read the poem and see whether you connect with it. Feel free to share your thoughts. Cheers!!

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