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Eddie Priest’s Barbershop & Notary

Closed Mondays
is music is men off early from work is waiting for the chance at the chair while the eagle claws holes in your pockets keeping time by the turning of rusty fans steel flowers with cold breezes is having nothing better to do than guess at the years of hair matted beneath the soiled caps of drunks the pain of running a fisted comb through stubborn knots is the dark dirty low down blues the tender heads of sons fresh from cornrows all wonder at losing half their height is a mother gathering hair for good luck for a soft wig is the round difficulty of ears the peach faced boys asking Eddie to cut in parts and arrows wanting to have their names read for just a few days and among thin jazz is the quick brush of a done head the black flood around your feet grandfathers stopping their games of ivory dominoes just before they reach the bone yard is winking widowers announcing cut it clean off I’m through courting and hair only gets in the way is the final spin of the chair a reflection of a reflection that sting of wintergreen tonic on the neck of a sleeping snow haired man when you realize it is your turn you are next

—Kevin Young

from Most Way Home, by Kevin Young.

Copyright © 1995 by Kevin Young.

Reprinted with permission from Steerforth Press.

Poetry 180

About the Poet

Kevin Young (1970- ) is the author of nine collections of poetry, including Book of Hours (Knopf Doubleday, 2015). In March 2017, Young was named poetry editor of The New Yorker.

Learn more about Kevin Young at The Poetry Foundation.