Two Poems by Amy Beth Sisson

The Abrasive

Sweat sheened my forehead
Under the mass of Jewish frizz
That gave me my nickname: Brillo

I wanted it off

I side-eyed the breasts on girlie
Mags littering waiting tables
Me, in my Members Only cordovan
Leather armor—stiff and shiny

As he buzzed my head,
The barber said,
I’ll cut girls’ hair.
Not the oriental.
It’s like needles.
Gives me splinters.

Half shorn silent—half blind—pinned
A barbed hook resisted removal

He read my disapproving grimace
Attacked with his clippers
I put on my glasses

Saw my scalp glinting in patches
From under the fuzz
And cried

When I got home—I tore off
My t-shirt and slapped at black shards
On my scoured neck

My girlfriend shoved me
Into the shower, lustful
Your head is incandescent.

The prickle of her hands
Hot on my scalp
Stroking the sparse bristle


At my ex’s

My son grabbed a ballpoint from the glass coffee table -click
Thumbed small lever: open shut, open shut, with each one -click

In the upholstered armchair sat the small-town policeman
Dark uniform, with holstered gun -click

His eyes glared at my child. Fifteen, 6’3”. Stubbled
I still saw him in soft cotton PJs. Robotman -click

That night in a Hendrix tee, sagged jeans
Shrugging, slouching -click

Until the officer shouted, “quit that”
But this story is wrong. The cop picked up the pen -click

No one could ask him to stop
With each click my son flinched in his wooden seat -click

Until the cop shouted, “quit that”
An order. My son sat up straight -click

This is still wrong. My son doesn’t recall me there
His memory: the cruiser’s hot hood

Where the cop pressed his face down
Before he was cuffed -click


Amy Beth Sisson (she/her) Poetry has appeared in Cleaver Magazine, The Night Heron Barks, Ran Off With the Star Bassoon, The River Heron Review, Philadelphia Stories and is upcoming in The Shoutflower. Sundress Publications selected her manuscript I Instruct My Toad How to Write Poetry as a semifinalist for its 2022 Chapbook Contest. She got her MFA in poetry in 2023 at Rutgers Camden, is a project manager for the Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice, and an Editorial Assistant for FENCE Magazine.

Leave a Reply