Choosing the Blues
When Willie Mae went down to the barber shop
to visit her boyfriend who cut hair there
I went with her. Walking beside her on the street
the men said hey and stopped to watch her just walk.
Boyfriend Barber cut hair and cut his glance at her.
O, he could see the tree for the forest; he pressed
down the wild crest on a man’s head and shaved it off
just so he could watch her standing there by the juke
box choosing the blues she would wear for the afternoon.
Right there Little Milton would shoot through the store-
front with the peppermint stick sentry twirling outside —
"If I didn’t love you, baby, grits ain’t grocery, eggs
ain’t poultry, and Mona Lisa was a man."
And every razor and mouth would stop its dissembling
business. And Time sit down in the barber’s chair
and tell Memory poised with its scissors in hand
not to cut it too short, just take a little off the ends.