Sunday, April 07, 2013

Poem 5 of 30 - April 6 - Groom Routine

Groom Routine

I’d never watched my father
get ready for work – never
seen the gleam of Vaseline
or coconut oil anoint the crowns
of his onyx knuckles or backs
of knees – never seen him pick
that afro out tall and smooth it
out with a postcard or pat it down
with a thin-volumed book.

Did he iron before or after
shower? Did shoes go on last
or immediately after trousers?
I hadn’t a clue – so I made
a routine up – trial & error
like I made up how to walk
the streets’ gauntlets, how
to say mornin family
to a sister in the streets,
how to throw a punch
or beg the woman you love
and have disappointed.

But understand that I begin
with the lotion – oil my body
free of the dry ash bequeathed
my blackness – I dollop
the thick green Afro-Sheen
into my palms- rub them
together making a thunder
sounding like wet laundry
and massage the magic into
my hair, my scalp, the rough
wires of sideburns and beard.

I work my wrists in along
the hairline, stroke that shine
in under the eyes, the cheekbones.
I step into trousers, then shoes –
drape myself in necklace or watch
or bracelet, an ironed crisp shirt.

I leave the combing for last,
my hair thick with my father’s
naps, with grease, his not-thereness.
From temples to chin I comb
it through, brush it out, buff
it up – so I look

like him anyway – a man
about to go somewhere
a man – about to make
a choice

To schedule a reading or an appearance please contact Ofer Ziv at Blue Flower Arts at 845-677-8559 or email


Post a Comment

<< Home