“The reason I use a straight razor”: Four poems by Daniel Wade

Made in India

I shave with a cheap straight razor these days.
Stainless steel blade, imitation scrimshaw hilt, made in India.
No disposables, overpriced Mach3’s, or sizzling electrics.

I draw it out like a folding knife, drag it gently downward.

The reason I use a straight razor
is because my ex used to say that all men
should know how to shave with one.
All real men, at any rate.

In fairness, it does make for a cleaner shave.

I shear each bristle off like a regret,
let them float in the steaming sink in reddish clumps,

my cheeks and jawline suddenly naked in the rush of air.

Might I shave like my father, with the same precision and care?
I examine the face I keep hidden, smear disinfectant on the razor.

This is a man’s instrument, and men should know
how to use it, cheap and replaceable as it is.

Stainless steel blade, imitation scrimshaw hilt
and rust markings that blotch it like dried blood:

reminds me of what my ex said,
how she liked watching me shave,
of what she liked in a man.

Makes me want to be as stainless and steely as this blade,
impossible as that is.

***

Sunlight

Early sunlight re-uploads itself
to an oil-black sky.
Heat vaguely licks my face.
Today just might be a good one.
I drink some coffee
Lavazza at full strength,
bubbles in the froth
like a cluster of spider eyes in close-up.
I don’t know what I want
or what I even need;
just that I lack something.
For now, I sit and sip coffee
and just watch the sun
work its slow magic
over everything. Yeah,
today just might be a good one.
Later on, I watch a newscast
about a squad of Israeli soldiers,
how they gunned down
fleeing civilians in the streets
of Gaza, before posing
for a group selfie with the corpses.

***

Petrochemical Blues

Strait of Hormuz, 2019

The scent of blood and oil
hangs heavy on the tide.
A garbled wash of lats.

and longs. crests the GPS in real-
time, breakers claw at rocks
below with salt-talons oozing

back to the depths; an undersea
pipeline is punctured, ejaculating
technicolor slicks into green bay

water. Make no announcement;
they already know you’re here.
Smoke your pre-watch cigarette,

watch an early sun grill
the horizon to the engine’s
operatic murmur, the air

curdled by diesel fuel. Wind
in frenzy, the flag flutters its false
tocsin; you watch with interest

as the first underwater blast
funnels pillars of smoke
on a cooked wind, tinge

of death amidships, each
elemental nerve heated,
hammered, irradiated

and cooled to scrap iron,
by a distress call’s crackle.
By midday, it’s neither

the time nor the place
to be here, the tide bubbling
like a newly-struck oil field;

blue-black delirium gushes
like ballast through the Gulf’s
narrow mouth, the only exit

and the only entrance you know.
A U.S.N. destroyer is now
underway and global attention

briefly anchored alongside
as you snuff your cigarette
against a sea of flammable odds.

***

Portrait Photo

The portrait photo, product, greyscale, shows us
nearly touching and wearing our best smiles,
the ones brought out only for occasions such as this:
leaving aside your disdain and denials
under the lighting equipment’s stark radiance,
you look smart, confidently agleam, one hand
clasped on my shoulder. I wear my best shirt; you once
said it brought out my eyes, unbuttoned
at the collar. Frozen together in posed bliss within
the frame, we look as if a screwdriver has tinkered
with the corners of our mouths ’til our grins
are suitably bright. But, in fairness, we do look good
together. Photogenic. #InstaReady. But it’s not destined
for any album, to be interred on the cloud somewhere,
or to even have pride of place on some future grand
mantelpiece, when we’re both just memories to each other.
No, it stays on its own, facing into whatever soft-focus
oblivion neither of us really wanted. But I’m being needlessly
mawkish, and anyway, time heals all, so let it end here.

***

Daniel Wade is a poet and playwright from Dublin. In January 2017, his play The Collector opened the 20th anniversary season of the New Theatre, Dublin. In January 2020 his radio drama Crossing the Red Line was broadcast on RTE Radio 1 Extra. Daniel was the Hennessy New Irish Writing winner for April 2015 in The Irish Times, and his poetry has appeared in over two dozen publications since 2012, incl. Cassandra Voices, The Missouri Review, The Agonist, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Live Encounters, Fresh Air Poetry, The Galway Review, A New Ulster, Banshee Press and Zymbol.  


Read more poetry on Bengaluru Review:

“I am an old harmonium”: Three poems by Sekhar Banerjee

“I sank a marriage of stone and water”: Four poems by Sophia Naz

‘It was spring and we suckled dreams’: Four poems by Linthoi Ningthoujam


 

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