Laundry List

catholic poetry room

This week’s poem in the Catholic Poetry Room is by Marjorie Maddox.                                                                                               

Laundry List

“The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.”
— St. Thomas More

Shake out doubt.
Sliced mustard seeds
gather in creases of what you believed,
once. Find them. Remember the feel
of soft, the soap-smell of calm,
and smooth the fabric ridges.

Claim denim and flannel as rosary,
then fold and refold both
like church bulletins.
Remember to separate
thick from thin, light
from dark, whole
from holey.

Discard completely
the permanently stained, but save
for next week’s pre-wash treatment
your favorite ways to wear
the dirt you’re drawn to
even on wash day,
even mid-cycle of such
necessary ritual cleansings.

Put everything away
in its own neat compartment.
Pray for what you’ve done—
the diligently muddied, the scrubbed—
and left undone—wine on the sheets,
under-the-bed socks.
Most importantly, rinse and—
even when it resembles chore—


Marjorie Maddox has published eleven collections of poetry, including Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation (Yellowglen Prize, 1 of three finalists Brittingham and Felix Pollak Prizes; re-release Wipf & Stock 2018);  True, False, None of the Above (Poiema Poetry Series and Illumination Book Award Medalist); Wives’ Tales (Seven Kitchens Press Editor’s Series);  Local News from Someplace Else  (Wipf & Stock 2013);  a 2013 ebook of Perpendicular As I ( Kindle version,  Nook version, Kobo version); print version of  Perpendicular As I  (1994 Sandstone Book Award); Weeknights at the Cathedral (WordTech 2006); When The Wood Clacks Out Your Name: Baseball Poems (2001 Redgreene Press Chapbook Winner); Body Parts (Anamnesis Press 1999); Ecclesia (Franciscan University Press, 1997);  How to Fit God into a Poem  (1993 Painted Bride Chapbook Winner); and Nightrider to Edinburgh (1986 Amelia Chapbook Winner), as well as over 550 poems, stories, and essays in journals and anthologies. 

Print this entry

By Tim Bete

Tim Bete, ICL Poetry Curator To submit poetry to be considered for the Catholic Poetry Room, visit our submission guidelines page.

Tim Bete is Poetry Editor for and always searching for the best Catholic poetry from today's poets as well as those of the past.

Tim's poetry has appeared in Presence: A Journal of Catholic Poetry, The Asketerion, and the Poet and Contemplative Blog of the Discalced Carmelite Friars (Province of St. Therese). His first book of poetry is The Raw Stillness of Heaven, of which one reviewer wrote, “If you are Catholic and think that you do not like poetry, this book will change your mind.”

Tim is former director of the national writers' workshop at the University of Dayton—a Catholic, Marianist university. He's a member of the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites (OCDS) and often trades poems with his oldest daughter, who is a Dominican Sister. He says she's the best writer in the family.

Tim's writing has also appeared in several editions of the Amazing Grace anthology series (Ascension Press), theChristian Science Monitor, Writer's Digest magazine, and numerous parenting magazines. His latest book is Wanderings of an Ordinary Pilgrim

Connect with Tim on: