From Bari,
southeastern coastal
town in Italy.
Poor, came to America
in his teens
with his old world craft,
found his way
as an entrepreneur,
eventually opened his
own fancy salon.
I began with him
in his lone chair
in another man’s shop.
We’ve grown older together,
as I listened to his
off-color stories and
racial jokes while he
made his climb.
Snip, snip, snip—
how many of my hairs at
his graceful hand have
fallen to my shoulders?
I never reprimanded him,
just didn’t respond.
He stopped all that—
not chastised—
just grown wiser.
Franco, my friend,
who plays Italian
music for us as
he teaches me
how to watch a movie.

–Allan Cox