Oct/Nov 2020 Poetry Special Feature

Talking to My Toupee

by Bob Bradshaw

Talking to My Toupee

With an apology for a face,
I have tried everything:
anti-aging creams,

new spectacles
to distract from my nose
—a leaky blob—

even a chin job
to look like Kirk Douglas
in his heyday.

Yet wild nights
did not follow. So,
buddy, I have turned to you.

Without you I'm almost bald,
a frog longing
to turn into a prince.

Until I can check into
a new body as if slipping
into an expensive suit,

you are my last hope.
If nothing else, I can use you
to mop up any wine

or champagne I spill
when I take my wife Jenny
out on our 20th anniversary.

Ever the perfectionist,
she says you looked like proof
of static electricity

before she brought out
her shears. "I want
to discourage the office girls,"

she teases, running her fingers
through you as through
a perfumed fur.

"You're more sexy this way,"
she whispers, trimming you
in the shape

of Steve Reeves' hair,
a matinee idol in the '50s
of teenage girls,

and I can see her dreamily
recalling Hercules

Wig, I wonder, Does she lie awake
at night, worrying
over rivals?

So, I ask her, with my new look
—You're not worried...
about the sixty-year-old

department secretary?
Or the teenage intern
who's joined our team,

his free time spent painting
his nails, filing them
into heart shapes?

"No, honey. I'm worried
about your cholesterol scores."
There it is. Middle age.

Ah, even you, my latest hope,
can't pull off miracles:
or can you? How about a date

tonight? I ask her, in my most
manly Steve Reeves' voice.
"No, I'm tired..."

Who knew barbering
was so exhausting?
"Are you upset?"

No, I answer weakly
as she snips away,
my dream of playing Casanova

domesticated. I'm a sheep,
as always—my wool
piling onto the floor.


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