At the Barbershop


In this country, barbers are
more important than doctors
or physicists. 7 out of 16 presidents were
either barbers or came from families
that owned salons.

Here, the barber has no time
for chitchat, to ask after your garden
or tickle you with personal anecdotes.
He’s far too busy keeping everyone
inside the law. And when he’s not,
he’s building his wine cellar or donating
a bridge to the county. The day your barber
learns your name is celebrated
with ostentation for nineteen days on boats
with cheroots, marzipan and snail pulao.

Once, I decided
to let my hair grow for a week and then one
night, the wind picked up the end
of my beard and carried it out the balcony
till it smashed the windows on three floors,
earning me a mugshot in the local paper.

While this environment is encouraging to thousands
of bald immigrants it is
unremarkable to all its citizens
who’ve had haircuts nearly everyday of their lives;
who spend more time
at the barbershop in a month than in a year
of their kids’ soccer practice or watching the news.

It is said the government burnt a hole
through the ozone incinerating all the hair
and now is dumping them on rented worlds.
So if you visit with us, do not be offended by strands
of hair in your soup; think of the bezoars
in our x-rays-I keep storing mine in jade trunks
and soon, they’ll be ready for school.

Arjun Rajendran's first collection of poems, "Snake Wine", was published by the Zaporogue Press in February 2014. Some of his recent work has appeared in VAYAVYA, SOFTBLOW and The Missing Slate.

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