Joey By the Rose of Sharon
My father gives me the second of three yearly haircuts.
His class ring parries my nape
an eight-year gap
between high school and meeting our mother on a frigate.
First love tattooed: Peggy of the gluteal cheek--
Dominic’s funeral parlor or week in Vietnam.
Disabled vets in their twenties start families, then salons.
His friend Joey the stenographer shows up at our house,
couldn’t have been later than ´88.
Polaroid and pizzicato,
the viola concert I serenaded him with.
By the Rose of Sharon they talk.
We had a birdbath.
A neighbor who called Child Protective Services.
We’re screamers, ma’am you’re Ohioan.
Tend your Cleveland and let us be.
Dad of the we-don’t-knows:
The couples’ weekend Mom fled mid-Saturday,
Joey Marada from stenography’s exile
visiting Michigan for an hour and impromptu pasta.
Lithe at forty-six, jacket misjudging October,
his style verbatim-paid.
Salons fed three, my sonship second
when Dad’s post office job came like zip-code cavalry.
He gave collection units their locks.
Kept the barber stool for one-offs.
We heard more about Paul Mannes
who lost half his face--
veteran-speak for no deferring. No defining
postal acronyms or the X-rays that allow Dad
his license plate parking at the VA.
This began as a haircut the night before third grade.
I’m better acquainted with angioplasty than stenography.
Once a year Dad’s specialist transcribes it.
My insistence on lithe because no one
in my family was or shifts.
or Marada from upstate
who tangles and restarts.
About the Author: Jonathan Riccio is a PhD candidate at the University of Southern Mississippi's Center for Writers. A 2018 Lambda Poetry Fellow, his work appears in print or online at Booth, The Cincinnati Review, E·ratio, Hawai'i Review, Permafrost, and Waxwing, among others. He received his MFA from the University of Arizona.