The Window Washer – by MATTHEW LAWLER

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The Window Washer

There’s a man who washes windows

along Western Avenue.

Seemingly irrational, he blurts stories

about giant pythons circling his steps,

Latching on his flesh, choking every breath

as blood spurts from his nostrils.

His awkward stance resembles

an avalanche of some sorts,

Disheveled by the devils he snorts.

Entangled in the cobwebs of cobblestone.

One of three million who call Chicago home.

He works for a living, but only to feed

his habit of alcohol and coke,

He sleeps under the viaducts with the other addicts,

Those with skeleton skin,

The lepers who’ve lost hope.


There’s a man who washes windows

along Western Avenue,

From sun up to sundown,

With squeegee fresh pressed against glass,

He sees a haunting image loudly

conjuring shadows from his past.

He’s been a prisoner for years

held captive by that helpless hunger

that pelts urges with no restraint,

Wishing for excursions perhaps

to a transcendent state.


What keeps him going?

He finds meaning in the washing.

It’s a cycle of blissful anguish.


Clean the outdoor storefront windows

while the insides he can’t touch,

Wipe the stains from the outside window panes

while the insides remain full of gunk.


He’s a surface cleanser with squeegee in hand,

Divested of self-esteem, to himself he’s hardly a man.

He washes for the fix, transient as it may be,

He sees the world as he sees himself

in a flask drunk and crazy.


Walking up and down the street for pennies

at least he’s working for a living,

Blood dripping down his nose from

all the snow he’s been sniffing.

Strolling along the sidewalk

Talking to the summer heat,

He notices stress cracks carved in windows.

He stops to gaze inside and look,

But turns from his reflection,

Realizing his days are pages in a book.

Years vanishing like his once youthful face,

Shards of glass cracking on his feet

from a car’s broken rear view mirror

parked alongside the street.

Bars line up like pillars across

the windows of a church,

He sees the bars in his own eyes

and can’t seem to escape,

Been afraid for so long

to try and change his fate.

He hesitates to look deep inside

fearing what could be,

That he’s a prison to himself

and can’t seem to get free.


There’s a man who washes windows

along Western Avenue,

With mechanical hands in

a methodical motion

moving up and down like a seismograph.

His life is an earthquake,

Rumbling, shattering the




Matthew J. Lawler is a poet and Chicago native. He was raised on the Northwest side of the city and began writing poetry in his teen years. His writing is a blend of narrative and philosophical thought. He is published in numerous online journals, Visual Verse, Unlost Journal, Caravel Literary Arts Journal, People’s Tribune, and Dissident Voice. You can find more of his work at

2 Replies to “The Window Washer – by MATTHEW LAWLER”

    1. Thank you Stephen. I appreciate your kind words. I didn’t really know where I was going with this one, but I’m happy with it. Thanks.


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