Joseph O’Connor

On the Barber Pole

Outside, the red & white needle helixes like a lighthouse:—centrifuges clientele, unraveling
men from boys. A bell alarms as I pass through. Dip behind the dirty aquarium: sink into black
leather couch. Springs push relentless on my tailbone:—try to sperm their way inside. Waiting
makes my thighs sweat. Astroglide forward: Playboy spread like playing cards. Chin down:—
shades drawn over my poker face. Draw one. Lick my pointer:—the ladies oblige, open
their glossy insides [not as smooth as Barbie’s]. I could sense the sudden hair on my
tongue. I was speechless. The barber calls for me in a language I do not speak. No telephone-book
cushion: the firm support of two-thousand strangers. He sits me in front of myself.
Robes me in black. Vibrator whispers in my ears: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Dead cells pepper the air. Chin
up. Hands tell my temples where to look: left. Spins my head like a globe this way
and that. His stomach mushrooms over my forearm as he cleaves my veil. The shock
of buckle metal is cold electricity. He does not see me quake underneath. I do not see him shoot
warm cream on my nape. Sit still while his blade carves me into hard edges. I tip him three dollars
more than my father told me to.

Joseph O’Connoris a student of Literature and Gender Studies at SUNY Geneseo. He hails from Lynbrook, NY. His work has been published in a myriad of campus magazines as well as Gandy Dancer. He hopes to pursue a career in adolescent education after graduation.

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