Haircut Talk

By Peter Stokes
Featured Image: Baby (Cradle) by Gustav Klimt

Lenny’s elbows jut from the sleeves
Of his blue barber’s shirt
And carve the air about my head
In a series of unreadable signs
That I trace in the glass of his square barber’s mirror
Where I watch myself watching his face give expression
To the subtlest whir from his scissors and comb.
Or we talk for a moment
About a change in the weather
And I realize for the first time
That Lenny is gay.
“So how’s married life?”
He says through the silence,
The strange edge in his voice
Like a barb on a wire
In the point-blank talk of our new acquaintance,
And I smile a smile that communicates nothing
And it’s suddenly clear that Lenny is drunk.
How much, then, I wonder, does he want to know
About my wife in the hall
With the bread knife in her hand,
Or the one about me,
It was midnight at Tim’s place,
Falling down drunk from the top of the stairs,
Or the sub-zero talk in the car outside Lena’s
And making her cry until 3:00 a.m.
And I talk to myself,
Three speeches in the silence,
And all of this world,
On the still point of a pin,
Spins through the minutes
With nobody talking
As we confess to ourselves
Everything we conceal
And the hair from my head just falls to the floor.

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