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Local Poets, Local Inspiration

'Wayne's College of Beauty'

By David Swanger

"I know what wages beauty gives." --Yeats

We have dropped out of the other schools
to enroll here where no one fails; everything
is fixed, fluffed, teased into its temporary best
at cut-rate prices because we are all novices
in the art of making beauty, learning that beauty
is not so hard. Beauty is not so hard we learn,
because it is not chemicals or varieties of fashion.

Our scissors and combs, our libraries of lotions,
our bright mirrors assure the timorous or imperious
elderly they have come at last to the right place.
Wayne's is not the Heartbreak Hotel, and when they
leave beautiful, it is because they are briefly unlonely.

We have said, "How are you?", "How would you
like your hair?", and we have touched them not cruelly,
and with more than our hands. When it is over
we swivel their chairs so they can see themselves
carefully from several angles while we hover silent
just above their doubts, a calculation that provides
two faces in the mirror, ours smiling at both of us.

--David Swanger

Santa Cruzan David Swanger edited a poetry feature for several years in the Santa Cruz Sentinel. His most recent book, 'Wayne's College of Beauty' (BkMk Press, 2006; $13.95 paperback), won the John Ciardi Prize for Poetry. Additionally, Swanger has written three other volumes of poetry and a book about poetry, with many poems appearing in journals and anthologies and featured on American Public Media's 'The Writer's Almanac.' His work has been awarded grants from the California Arts Council and the NEA.

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