At the sign of the candy cane the men come to be made clean on a regular basis. The barber drapes a cloak on the shoulders, and, electric razor in hand, unruly hair falls to the floor as he gives voice to the sacrament and lends an attentive ear, as do others waiting their turn in chairs, to profane tales of manly folly, the baffling behavior of women, the fucking unbelievable incompetence of politicians. These manifold overt and covert sins are not shrived but celebrated, as spicy anecdotes inspire others to share in the commentary. The sibilance of the shears softly severing the last strays, the warm lather on the back of the neck, the nape-tingling scrape of the blade—so precise and refreshing—the ultimate applications of holy ointments, and the communion, not with God but mortal men, is complete.
William Heath has published two books of poetry, The Walking Man and Steel Valley Elegy; two chapbooks, Night Moves in Ohio and Leaving Seville; three novels, The Children Bob Moses Led (winner of the Hackney Award), Devil Dancer, and Blacksnake’s Path; a work of history, William Wells and the Struggle for the Old Northwest (winner of two Spur Awards); and a collection of interviews, Conversations with Robert Stone. http://www.williamheathbooks.com