The Manhattan Review
The Manhattan Review
Established 1980

Archive > Vol. 18 no. 1


John Brehm



I have a sweaty, hat-ruining head. 
My straw fedora sports a ring
of darkish discoloration
around the brim. 
Luckily I’m tall, so only God
can see it and it hardly
bothers Him,
though it worries me. 
It’s on my list of things
to worry about: money, 
relationships, my career, ha!,
the jittery hummingbird
of my heart, the shocking
scarcity of jazz clubs
here in Portland, Oregon,
(why, oh why, did I leave
New York?), my father’s dying,
my mother’s loneliness.
Sweat stains on my hat
sometimes rise
to the top of the list.
Which shows what kind
of person I am, frivolous
and vain, though I like
to think myself otherwise.
I wear the fedora even
when hiking in the high heat
of summer, knowing it will make
the sweat stains worse.
Why? Because a beautiful woman
once smiled at me on the trail, 
and I’m sure it was partly
due to my hat, so stylish
and unexpectedly debonair
in the bright green forest.
She was not tall. She could not
see what my worrisome
head had done to it.