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Blog - Richard Downes



Barber Shop
Words start to fall on a moonlight walk. ‘Conscripted into separation’ starts it all. I wonder what it means. I share the line with someone who gives it a thumbs up. I forget it as the day goes on. It returns. It gets a few more numbered lines. Its left. It goes moldy. I should have wrapped it in cling film and put it in a cake tin with a tea spoon full of alcohol but I didn’t. And it rots some more. And I forget it. And then I see it. And having seen it I think I could just leave it. Leave it as it is. Consign it to the history of those rhymes that get thrown away / even cast out to a blog. But there’s something in it. And I see it again and again. It is my shining symbol. And so I pay a testimony to my hair.

Way back
I became
Beyond legal
I was conscripted
Into a mode of separation

Ruled by
Parental Ruefulness
Toward Medical Advice
Supporting flaky ideology

Anxiously waving goodbye
A bond forever broken
I pull my fringe down
Over my eyes
To go inside
To hide
From times
I can’t abide
Where I can’t see
Where weakness shows
Where horror grows
Where the clock knows
What should be done now
And when its not
What then

I tug my hair
To hide again
Refuse to go there
Within the regime
A clock ticks
A hand flicks
The cross school
With no ticks
Yes there
A memory of humiliation

Friday is spam fritters
Thursday is the barbers bowl
I look to tug my hair
Avoid the chair
Avoid the sight
Of hair
Falling all around
The site
Where choice is not given
And I ask
The barber not to cut my hair

I choose to fight the system
To shun the uniform
To deny the values of country
The oaths of wolf pack
and scout troop
I read the papers
Survey the times
Look into the mirror
One last time and choose to grow my hair

But my hair refuses
My eye lashes
Eye Brows
Fall out
My chest hair
Won’t grow
There is something holding me back
Holding me down
I stare round
And see a cross
A cross I break
And the rules
The regulation
Like a glass shatter
And all that matters
Is I find a way to grow my hair
But my hair won’t grow

And I long so much for hair
For side burn, mustache and Beard
Shoulder length
Down the back hair
Tied in a tail
Resigned to a plait
And I go back home
But won’t stay there
The first and final institution
The they who won’t let me grow my hair
I won’t go there
And I won’t work
And I won’t engage with what they say
The words they bark
The commands that cleave the air
For now I know just what it takes
For me to grow my hair

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