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Collector's Items

Polished with love

almost brighter than new

they smile at us

from out of the way places


A side street in Istanbul


Candy striped pole beckons

a proud flourish, and beyond,

the paneled oak door that

tinkles a greeting into

a salon of leather chairs,

marble vials in fragrant jade

and amber, and perched on


A cherry wood stand


Beneath a portrait of a fox terrier

-a burnished squat box,

curved horn to needle

brass-handled, waiting


Such a greeting I would loath

ignore even were I bald!

A fez-accented ‘good morning’,

the aroma of ground coffee beans,

Caruso in the air, the seventy-eight

white-labeled and slightly tinny


A backdrop to the snip-snip

of scented scissors, the air filled

with the sextet from Lucia de L’amamore

clipped, perfumed and transported

from the lounge of my grandfather’s

house in Northampton


‘Chi mi frena’ – ‘Bella figlia del amore’ –

and there in the corner

next to Amelita Galli-Curci,

Gracie Fields!

and old George Formby with his

little stick of Brighton rock

up there on the bandstand conducting

the whole performance


While my host serves Turkish coffee,

beams and snips

and all too soon I am fresh and new again


Combed and brushed, my errant cowlick

held in place with a pat of grandmother’s

fond spittle – and off to school I go

kicking a stone past dragonflies and buttercups

Past the ‘big park’ where Horse Chestnut trees

shadowed circus tents in summer, past the

doughnut shop and up the long winding road

to the schoolhouse on the hill, which


If you close your eyes

for one delicious second, you will find

yourself back in a tinkling doorway

that leads into a scented barbershop

in old Istanbul where collector’s items

are replayed with delight and Turkish coffee

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© Johnmichael Simon



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