I shave every day
even when I don't want to. 

My father went to a barber for his shave,
towed me along.
Many of his friends clustered
at this social club. 
Haircut and a shave,
the hot towel brazed his face,
steam mingled with acrid cigar smoke. 
Bantered with the barber, other men—
politics, the unions, the Cubs.
The strop, strop, strop of the sharp razor.
Watched closely,
I was scared of a cut. 
Eyes averted the pin-up calendars
decorating the wall space
no woman ever entered. 
Afterwards outside, 
the pop, pop, pop
of the shoeshine’s 
white rag.

Originally published in the Pangolin Review