Thank You, Poetry

Thank you, poetry, for my father’s barbershop,
For the barber chairs and soap machines,
For the windows and mirrors, for it being downtown,
For the movie theater and marquee next door,
For opening nights and the Saturday matinee.
Thank you for the barbershop magazine rack,
For the hours I had to read and wait,
Mirrors sinking my thoughts into dreams.
Thank you, poetry, for the weight of scissors,
For the fragrances of Clubman hair products,
For the sounds of the razor on the strop,
For the razor on the back of the neck,
For the hot towels and sting of aftershave.
Thank you for the bus rides downtown,
For my mother helping my father close
So we could all go home together.
Thank you, poetry, for the magic
Of those mirrors, for the poetry hidden there,
For letting this artless boy, the son of a barber,
Experience something of your presence
Among such humble things.

Haircut and Shave

When a man in a hospital bed
Needs a haircut and shave,
The barber with his black bag
Goes humbly through the wards.

In shadow and in light,
The barber and his patient,
Seen through an open door,
A smile on the sick man’s face.


The child I was sits trembling in a barber chair.
‘Make me a barber, ‘ I asked my father,
Barbers are men who smell like rose water,
Who gather sea foam in their hands.
In my family, scissors fly like swallows,
Straight razors never bleed.

Now mirrors have tears in their eyes,
Combs and brushes are buried in coffins.
My father is inside a mirror,
Walking in his white salon shirt,
Carrying his sad combs and scissors
Along an endless seashore