brutus plays the barber
This blessing started as a curse.
Found its way to the barbershop
and lined you up perfectly.
Before you even sat in the chair. I did
what that intimate touch between you
and a longtime friend couldn’t. Both men
gentle in this act only. With his fingers
off of your temple, there I was. And my sweet
razor a small kindness for our inherited face.
I, dancing around your jawline. Score our shared
mouth and liberate your nape. Most days I want blood,
and blood only to use my hands. I don’t get how
people can own blood and still want bone and flesh.
Today I practiced patience. Knew contentment.
Know the wrong breath and then a palm & jaw
could both become bathed. When Dad used to cut
our hair one after the other, parts of us would fall
and collect at his feet into a heap of familiarity.
Even then we wished to not be called each other’s.
Prettier men have paid for less.
Jo’Van O’Neal is a Black poet, content creator, and teaching artist currently based in Newburgh, New York. He is a fellow of The Watering Hole and a Hurston/Wright Foundation workshop Alumnus. In 2018, he was an inaugural Open Mouth Readings Writing Retreat participant.