Haircut at the Mall

James Esch
by James Esch
in the numb plastic beauty pod I sit,
classic rock throbbing underfoot.
Magazine cover queens flutter
like sails on passing ships —
whip thin and soft
as young waxy trees.
I should talk more to the scissor girl
who’s short on conversation
weaving her thin fingers through my curls
her clipper buzzes and I’m six again,
an Italian barbershop,
my skull rattled,
electric tickle
shot behind the ear,
spazzing  the nerve — shocked
crazy down the vein
But this clipper doesn’t sting,
too much skin on my skull.
Her fingers pick through my locks,
she doesn’t even ask my name.
Precision sniplets fall on my lap,
a jumble of commas
whose gray is this?
I’m not that old.
it’s someone’s head I borrowed,
Its brittle iron jaw like a thrift store frying pan.
I pay, tip her, slide into the mall.
I’m orbited by constellations.
Alien space junk, spangled speedsternauts
with jet boots, foreign objects stuck in their ears.
I tumble in slow motion
sneakers soft landing on the marble,
stuck beside the soporific splash,
an obsolescent android on the moon.



James Esch is a senior lecturer in English and creative writing at Widener University. He is editor of Turk’s Head Review and founder of Spruce Alley Press. His recent fiction and poetry has been published at Stoneslide Corrective, Black Heart Magazine, and Lyre Lyre. He lives in West Chester, Pennsylvania.