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LEVINE, Philip

To a Child Trapped in a Barbershop

You’ve gotten in through the transom
and you can’t get out
till Monday morning or, worse,
till the cops come.

That six-year-old red face
calling for mama
is yours; it won’t help you
because your case

is closed forever, hopeless.
So don’t drink
the Lucky Tiger, don’t
fill up on grease

because that makes it a lot worse,
that makes it a crime
against property and the state
and that costs time.

We’ve all been here before,
we took our turn
under the electric storm
of the vibrator

and stiffened our wills to meet
the close clippers
and heard the true blade mowing
back and forth

on a strip of dead skin,
and we stopped crying.
You think your life is over?
It’s just begun.