Smallwood’s Barbershop

Balding men with stogies
And Saturday morning papers
Draped across their laps,
Interrogate the teacher called Coach,
Who’s drowning in foam and inexperience.

A little boy shops for a comic book.
He puffs on a long pretzel stick
Before pointing into a collage of frames
Scattered on the wall. His father answers:
That’s Larry; he’s from around here,
Took the Trojans to Rose Bowls.
That’s Neil; he’s from around here,
Walked on the moon.

Saddle soap crust and black speckles
Eat the creases of Hack’s hands.
He spits on and buffs pointed wingtips
And faded loafers, while watching old war
Movies on a portable TV and compares
His rite of passage.

The little boy grabs a booster seat.
The barber pats on warm lather and shaves
With the backside of a straight razor
Before snipping the bangs. The barber
Hands a framed mirror to the little boy,
Who stares at his reflection –
Paying no attention to the haircut.

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