The Barber's Chair

Emma cut my hair beneath the street lamp,
the one across from the stoop, the one
that makes us famous by its spotlight.
Blinking and buzzing like a vaudeville stage,
where you pulled me under with leaden hands,
the first night, the second, the third.

Emma, hold me by the chin and use a razor,
lay newspaper beneath the chair.
I'll wash your feet with the fallen
soldiers amidst your ankles.
Delilah, dearest, I freely give you my strength.

Emma beneath the street lamp, shear me bare.
Show the neighbors, the passers-by, the vendors
the folly of my dedication.
Lack of will here for a limited showing!
Shave me to the skin then wrap me in sackcloth.
Darken my face with ashes.
Send me on my way to mourn
the idea that I still weep at the thought of you.

Emma, stare with me upwards into the pale electric nothing,
remain still among the crowd as I walk away.
Pull one from the mass at random.
Start anew with one whose head tells tales of experience.
That's good for business, I hear.

— Robert Walsh resides in Chicago, Illinois.