A response to “Barber” by Larry Bradley 

By Juan 

Who are you? The man that holds that
Sharp razor against my waiting skin
Who, knows how to perfectly outline the hair on the back
Of my head… to satisfy the needs of a boy who yearns for cleanliness

I have to speak to you, vent and rant about all my miseries
For a cheap price of $10… you listen to my sufferings and thoughts
That spring out of the deepest part of my mind past my lips
But you, can also speak to me

Tell me about those two wars you’ve been in?
Please do say about your wife or your children…
I’ve seen you sweep the shop every evening
You make countless little piles of hair snippings

Now, I’m forced to ask of you
How do I trust a man with my most precious shield?
How could I trust YOU with a haircut like yours?
Your fingers work magic on the heads of others

Just like your words do, but do they,
I’m curious, work on you?
Do you see that man? A reflection of,
The one who’s been in two world wars?

The one who works his sentiments,
Deeper into my scalp with each turn of the razor?
The one who lost his only child
In the womb, of his lover

But, see, I know I can trust you
The man with that gruff voice
Asking of me, which style I’d choose for my hair
That man whose breath smells like peppermint and coffee

I trust your hands to guide my head in every direction
And I know, that I could trust you if I turned my back
Because of course, you wouldn’t dream of hurting ME
When my back turned as you say

The smell of tonics and gels, drown my nostrils into a safe oblivion
I still think, why are you here? After all your life’s adventures
You remain in these four walls, constraining yourself behind freedom
I’m not hypnotized by the spinning pole outside your door

The red marks the blood of those you’ve killed in those world wars
The blue reminds me of the veins of your innermost honesty
Now the white symbolizes you today, calm and at peace
Though your past has been splattered with the deeds you’ve carried out

You stand there speaking, giving life advice to a young boy
I know now, I see, after countless visits to the barber shop
That I should listen, to the man who spends much of his life
Speaking to the back of my head because though I don’t know you, I guess I know you enough

Teachers & Writers Magazine is published by Teachers & Writers Collaborative as a resource for teaching the art of writing to people of all ages. The online magazine presents a wide range of ideas and approaches, as well as lively explorations of T&W’s mission to celebrate the imagination and create greater equity in and through the literary arts.