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Michael Chitwood

By This Poet


Basement Barber

Here were said the words men say.
The oil stove winked its slit black eye;
it knew they did not have their way.

A whitetail made for the edge of the page.
Vitalis came before the talc.
My father's dark hair began to fade.

Barrelhead Thurman palmed my scalp,
knuckled my ear when he was done
just to hear a little boy yelp.

They rode, hats off, through years of lies
on bus seats the county junked,
out-fished, out-hunted the ones who’d died.

My father's dark hair began to fade.
The oil stove winked its slit black eye.
It knew he did not have his way.

The dead grow long and beautiful hair.
They have said what they had to say
to stir that basement's damp, sweet air.


What you have not done
is without error. What you
have not said is beyond contradiction.

What you understand of God
was yesterday. Today a bicycle
waits, chained to a bench.

The success of this afternoon’s nap
is the dream of lifting seven boxes,
your week, sealed with clear tape.

They stack, three to a column,
with the seventh like a capstone.
What you do not know they contain.