“The Sacrament” by William Heath

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