Author's Note: With the New Year, comes my annual resolution that I'll do a better job keeping up appearances. A trip to the barber has always been worse for me than a visit to the dentist. (Though at the rate my hair is leaving me each day lately, I'd prefer to think I'm already involved in some serious, though unintentional, self-grooming.) Here are two poems about my misadventures with one hair-cutter or another. Summer Cut originally appeared on Silver Birch Press, and The Kremlin Barber Shop in the 2018 Mizmor Poetry Anthology. For more odd poems and plenty of fake poetry news, visit alanwalowitz.com
Four weeks into camp, every barber,
licensed or not, in western Mass--
east of Becket, south of Adams,
north of the Connecticut line--
was rounded up to serve a greater good.
Visiting Day was near
and we’d better look sharp
for those paying our way for unlimited fun.
So they lined up chairs from the mess hall,
right beside the nature shack,
with wooden crates for us little guys to perch up on.
A dozen barbers, armed only with scissors and comb--
time-honored technology, in just the right hands--
this wouldn’t take long.
My barber seemed a peaceable man,
was whistling some opera-song,
but his attention had flagged three kids ago.
He didn’t mean to jam the scissor
into the meat of my quite ample ear.
The kid moved! he bellowed,
this hardly a profile in tonsorial-courage,
as he heard me cry out
and spotted the blood that would ruin his cape,
but probably not his entire day.
The counselor put down his cigarette
and swooped me up, band-aide at the ready—
I guess I wasn’t the first who’d moved--
and made me promise I’d tell my folks I ran into a tree,
which, the way I paid attention then—and now,
was a possibility, even my wise and wary mother
might hope to believe.
The Kremlin Barber Shop
After waiting my turn for years on this hard bench,
I tumble into the chair, while Arik,
born and raised in Soviet, and stoic as Putin
set to interrogate yet another poet,
unfurls the cape over my head
and makes me feel what it’s like to disappear.
My glasses are gone, and I can hardly see in the scarred mirror
where a weary sigh comes from above and behind,
and then, You want the normal, Boss?
I’m sure Arik means “the usual?”
though the man’s an artist—and now that he’s half-drowned
the scissor and comb in Barbicide, who am I to argue?
Me? Normal? Little chance even Arik can work such magic
on someone who’s waited so long--
young as he was when he first took his place,
only steel-grey shards tumble, like snow in Red Square,
now that we’ve arrived at the appointed hour.
Alan c 1970, often mistaken for Rasputin
©2020 Alan Walowitz
Editor's Note: If this poem(s) moves you please consider writing to the author (email address above) to tell him or her. You might say what it is about the poem that moves you. Writing to the author is the beginning of community at Verse Virtual. It is very important. -FF