Portrait of a Young Moroccan Barber; So Why These White Weights; Four Little Diptychs; So, What’s in the Strip; At Mother Theresa’s,

For fifty dirhams, he makes short work of it,
in a glassed shop the size of two phone booths,
parting with one black-gloved hand,
suggesting jewel heist, a yegg.
A Chinese tourist haggles over price,
trying to get his friend a free trim thrown in.
No luck, they stalk off.
Everybody gets the same cut,
no matter the plea, the magazine coiffures thrust forth;
it’s always just like his: pompadour full on top,
tapered crew buzzed on all sides.
My son squirms under an American flag smock,
his hair falling as fast as the rain outside the medina stalls,
the red duff downpour to the scuffed floor
delights this scissor-smart kid, who laughs off
this customer’s locks, “Like a Rasta, a Rasta!”
He douses his comb in alcohol,
then sets a BIC to it;

Because you like to nibble on the nuts,
stretching so far, a goat arc,
furred penumbra up the trunk
as your hooves nick the bark.
Because you offer photo ops
with sure tips to the locals
who want to make a Moroccan buck
off any Madam Milady who might stop the car.
But that’s not a sure thing,
and then the shepherds, staff and cell
in hand, want a cut too.
Because on Marrakesh food tours,
your smoked heads don’t sell as well,
even with the sticker prize for the tourist
who’ll swallow your eyeball.
So up you go, twenty or so, hoisted
and hobbled to the branches of an Argan tree,
strange fruit of selfies, sagging the boughs
stay put all day; all night, too, if the flash is working.
hidebound, sorry Christmas ornaments,
in the little drive-by breeze
you might as well swing.
Plated, you present in shrunken profile;
your gristle-cracked lips part in heehaw grin.
Although egged on to just taste,
I stroke your blanched, silken cheek.


There’s “Ann’s Ramblings,” spiral bound 
buried under my college journals;
but all blank, thinned—pages torn out?
I use it to record the oil tank levels,
converting inches to gallons
read from the backyard dipstick.
In your dresser I find a 1988 photo you didn’t frame,
you and I beam at each other,
in perfect backyard understanding.
And now the store next door
has put up Klieg lights to flood their parking lot;
the LED beams hit your house like theater,
some French Spectacle, catching me
as if onstage, red-handed, a scab
having had to set myself up as the new you
while I lay into the closets,
fresh shelf paper, sorting buttons from tacks,
needles from nails, the spillover
from your sewing box, my toolbox...
I stumble upon
two back-of-the-shelf bottles, eaus de cologne
—1970s Jean Nate and 1950s Elizabeth Arden—
we are turned to vinegar and water.
Did I bury you too quickly, Mother?
faster than a Jew’s levaya,
more like a dog pawing for the bone
because I couldn’t bear Little Donnie,
Jailbird Bobby, Gold-Digger Diane,
and the rest of the family who never gave a rap
about either of us showing up on the doorstep.
I bring from your garden,
two daffodils stuffed in a CamelBak,
see them shiver April against your granite name.
Oh the heavy empty
of these stilled stooped spaces,
Lucite between us.

Anguished wifey asks.
What gives with the go-go
boots and poles?
“Uh-huh, I’ll get back to you.”
And does he peruse the aisles of unguents,
dildos, and other orgasmic geegaws
of the Love Boutiques?
“Sorry, I feel bad,”
but she bets it felt good.
            You broke my will, but what a thrill.
All the while stupid fool has been home, worried sick
over wrong swag swatches and sallow grout.
Seems she was putting the finishing touches on the wrong stuff
“I shouldn’t have been so careless,”
to get caught, red-handed, of course.
After twenty-five years of marriage,
he’s out in the cold under the night wind’s ire.
Midnight, and he needs a cheap hotel to crash.
“I know things about you no one can ever know.”
Scarified from the marriage band,
she’s up with dawn’s recycling.
Diazepam-dumbed down, she waits outside the market,
frilled with tubed tulips, cellophane-sheathed,
staling in the Netherlands sun.

Blackbirds flock Keukenhof’s asphalt lot,
offering hoarse hosannas to hungry folly,
pecking at the little lopsided trees
of garbage.
Somewhere in there,
she knows
“you threw us away.”
Too much love drives a man insane
She’s fucked, he’s fucked
and all he can say is
Kiss me, baby

  Kolkata, India

the babies sit in sunless, toyless rooms,         
fattening their soles on dust.
Mother always said, “A beautiful death
is for people who lived like animals
to die like angels
—loved and wanted.”
With arms outstretched, big smile
I clown around, flashing colored kiddie plastics
grabbed from the airport 5 and 10,
but they pay me no heed,
ignore the morning mass mumbling,
prayers I, too, try to say
until I hear
the whoosh blade
at the Kalighat Kali Temple next door,
where prosperous families drag dark goats, kids
that baa and balk before the wishbone of blessing falls;
the cleaver gleaming into hack.
Red inklings mean a healthy child will follow
the goat’s still, magenta eye locked on the orphans.

Photography Credit: Jason Rice

Sharon Kennedy-Nolle’s poetry has appeared or is upcoming in Zone 3, The Round, Prism Review, SLAB, Potomac Review, Pennsylvania English, OxMag, Bluestem Magazine, Juked, Euphony, apt, Cape Rock, Sanskrit, Vox Poetica, Talking River, Storyscape, Delmarva Review, FRiGG, Qwerty, Jelly Bucket, The Dickinson Review, Lindenwood Review, Rogue Agent Journal, Elm Leaves Journal, Door is a Jar, Radar Poetry, Schuylkill Valley Journal of the Arts, Chaffin Journal, Free State Review, Edison Literary Review, Streetlight Magazine, Drunk Monkeys, Chantwood Magazine, Virginia Normal, Menacing Hedge, Chicago Quarterly Review, and The Midwest Quarterly among others.