by Paul Hostovsky

“Nobody calls it a barbershop anymore
except you, Dad,” says my son
when I tell him that’s where we’re going.
It’s called CostCutters. They’re called
hairstylists. It isn’t even called
a haircut anymore–it’s called a taper, or a fade,
or a number two on top and a number
one on the sides. And there isn’t
a coke machine by the door anymore
that sells coke in glass bottles. There isn’t
a transistor radio up on a shelf anymore
with the ballgame on. There isn’t
a red-and-white striped barber’s pole outside Dominic’s
with an old Italian barber named Dominic
who’s been there all my life and probably
most of his life, pushing the long broom
a little closer to my mother, flirting with her
anymore. But some things haven’t changed: they still
wrap you in a cape, and they still
look at you looking back at them in the mirror
as they stand behind you and ask you
what you want. And what you want,
though they call it something else now,
hasn’t changed either–they still touch you
in a way that feels good, and they make you look good
and smell good, too. And you still walk out of there
feeling a little lighter, a little younger, a little closer
to beauty, though nobody calls it that because you’re a boy.


Paul Hostovsky is the author of ten books of poetry, most recently, Late for the Gratitude Meeting (Kelsay Books, 2019). Website:

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