Once I Carried a Pediculus Head

A whole colony of louse made a house 
in thick fields of my dark & straight hair 
styled like a bastard child of a Beatle.

Mom used a thin black comb to roam
my skull & pulled from it tiny-legged creatures 
eager to escape the bars they nestled in.

When excessive combing & scrubbing 
w/ medicinal shampoo didn’t kill them, 
Mom shaved my head w/ the clippers

she used to line up my stepfather’s neck. 
The machine plowed through the heath 
w/ sharp steel teeth leaving behind bits

of legs & antennae in its metal grin.
Mom scoured my head like an agent
of pediculicide, side stepping the beginnings

of a rat tail I grew as a kid–a sign of a pest
in the eyes of those who wield a different steel 
made for culling, made for cutting down.


Cover Art by Yunha Hwang

Jacob Saenz
Jacob Saenz

Jacob Saenz, a poet and editor, was born in Chicago and raised in Cicero, Illinois. He earned a BA in Creative Writing from Columbia College in Chicago. His first collection of poetry, Throwing the Crown (Copper Canyon Press, 2018), was awarded the 2018 American Poetry Review/Honickman First Book Prize.

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