40 YEARS OF CUTBANK: “The Lung and the Haircut” by Zachary Schomburg

The Lung and Haircut

by Zachary Schomburg

Originally published in CutBank 63/64

At a Halloween party, a lung went as a haircut, and a haircut went as a lung. They became inseparable. They got along famously. The haircut had a shit brown Silverado and he often let the lung drive it. The lung played the piano while eating pancakes, a feat unmatched by any other lung, and the haircut could make the best pancakes. Once, when the lung got sick and couldn't go to work, the haircut stayed home too and they watched a half dozen movies. They discussed their biggest fears one quiet night beneath a golden moon, black clouds shifting and giving chase, a plane landing carefully in the distance, one right after the other, in perfect intervals. The haircut's fear was to be eaten by a shark, but he was lying. The lung knew it. He remembered seeing death on the mirrored surface of the haircut's coffee one morning, then watched him pick it up and swirl it around in circles. The lung said timidly, losing you. They let the words float a while, heavy in the moonlight, and the lung went home to write a poem about it that goes: Death is falling gently onto all our collars and it is spreading out on the floor. It is one thing and then a million things.

Zachary Schomburg is the author of four books of poems including the forthcoming The Book of Joshua (Black Ocean). He co-does Octopus Books and the Bad Blood Reading Series where he lives in Portland, Or.