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From: The Missouri Review
Volume 37, Number 1, 2014
pp. 144-147 | 10.1353/mis.2014.0017

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

His fair large Front and Eye sublime declar’d
Absolute rule; and Hyancinthine Locks
Round from his parted forelock manly hung
Clust’ring, but not beneath his shoulders broad

Paradise Lost, IV, 300–303

Delicious windfall apple of her father’s eye sparkling
like a newmint Rockefeller dime at her shrimp and French fry
fourteenth birthday supper raised the hair on her papa’s neck
during the ceremonial lighting of the candles when she asked
Daddy, could I have a special favor for my birthday?

and Meredith blowing candles fro and asunder
said Just so you won’t have to wonder, it’s not about a car
Daddy that’s almost the fartharest thing from my mind why
I haven’t even started Driver Training Class yet
what in the world would I want a car for?

he astonished sat hard upon his chair
said aloud and with emphasis Well
and his sun rise and set offspring rejoined
Daddy, I want you to grow your hair out for me
that’s what I want

let your hair grow until I say that’s enough
and I promise I’ll take care of it so the whole family
will be proud and get me ready for Odessa Beauty College
after I’ve grown up and graduated from high school
the very only thing I want for my birthday

upon which her daddy firmly interjected Well again
and he meant it sincerely
proud of his little girl as only a father can be

through August and up to the opening of football season
his hair grew steadily in scattered bunches
intermittent like the year’s unrained upon cotton crop
careless weeds arising hither and various
only to be chopped, cultivated and manicured
by Sweet Meredith’s beneficent hands

until one day as if by astonishment a luxurious mane
rested as a velvet drape upon his head in dark waves and ripples
a profusion which she tended unceasingly with slatherings
of Wildroot Cream Oil and dabs of Brylcreem
so the coiffure glistened like an ebony crown welded to his pate
carefully scissored so that nary a hair strayed from its chosen place

a Wednesday night Baptist prayer meeting
before the Friday night game with Tahoka
Phil Bob Bouchier came to him bearing hamartia
as a representative of the Pastors and Deacons Inner Council
at the behest of Reverend Strayhorn and said
It’s about your hair
What about it? he said

and the Reverend Strayhorn lurking in abeyance
awaiting opportunity to excel in a profundance of homiletic rapture
seized upon the occasion to perform a recital of scripture as if
extracted spontaneously from deep memory quoting First Timothy
and then the shame of First Corinthians eleven verse fourteen
verbatim in an admonishment to motivate hisself up
to Lenton Ingram’s barber shop and get him a haircut

so that he rosy humiliated screwed his courage to the penultimate
sticking-place and told the Deacon and Reverend his goddam hair
did not go over his collar yet and it was none of their business
he’d grow it down to his ass if that’s what he felt like
and with his daughter haughty on one arm and on the other
his wife walked out of prayer meeting and simultaneously
trundled them the hell out of his life

November Sunday after the Antelope Homecoming Game with Slaton
lost by fourteen points Meredith performed her masterpiece
with pomade and a copious waft of Aqua Net spray so that his hair
moulded into a flowing rambunctious, bouffant and truly astonishing
Elvis Presley ducktail worthy of Little Richard and the Everly Brothers
lustrous in its piled glow to invoke covetousness of the English Queen
when he walked down the 1st Presbyterian Church aisle his family atow

in exercise of his newfound religious freedom and sat himself
and his entourage in a downfront lefthand side pew hoping nobody
really noticed if he was there or not shimmering in the churchlight
until Maxine Durrant rose from her middle center bench, eased down
the aisle to the space behind him where she leaned avast and whispered
If you wore your hair like that in high school I would have screwed...

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