A Little off the Top (Poem)

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I roam the earth in search of
The only man who knows how to cut my hair properly,
Neville the Human Pencil Sharpener.
I stare with bedraggled longing at each barber’s window
In my longest bad hair day—
A dies irae of frizzy tangles
With no blessed relief of night.
I welcome the enveloping blackness,
A blissful undiscernment of
The hedgehog that has settled on my head
And yet is part of me.
But the dark is not yet come—
I stand revealed to all in my dishevelment
A gawky, stark clown, uncombable.
Neville, whom I encountered but once,
Was the only one to assuage my split ends,
To tame and shape my weedy growth
So that my head resembled a human one.
This chance meeting occurred on a bus,
As did the impromptu haircut.
Immediately thereafter my life improved—
I was suddenly popular, successful, stylish—
And I could skirt the ignominy of public transportation.
This glow lasted as long as my haircut retained its neatness.
Now I ride the buses endlessly with pilfered transfers,
Seeking my benefactor, my catalyst, my stylist
To touch up and remedy what nature hath put awry.
I am beginning to sense that there is no Neville,
That my island of contentment was a dream
Meant to make a life such as mine bearable.
But I have grown to enjoy buses again,
And perhaps that is a start.


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