jjsmith_petal hair
Real Gone Hair
by Joan Jobe Smith

My hair stylist Sally was just a baby when I wore
those ancient petal curls of yore in that old photo
of me in 1969 so she never knew that petal-curled
coiffure adorned Jackie Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn,
Natalie Wood, Cher, Queen Elizabeth’s sister and
maybe Marilyn Monroe, too, if she’d not died in 1962

and oh, what hell it was, I tell Sally, to make those
petal curls, first: the hair-setting swirls around those
coffee can-sized curlers, then that stinky, sticky
lacquer hairspray, enough to shine a 4-door Caddy
and then the hour or more inside the roaring sweaty
hair dryer while you sat there imagining brain tumors
forming behind your eardrums, then the ratting, more
hairspray gunk that made you croak from it all, then
all those big sharp hairpins to make the upsweep stay
put and then the petal making one by one bottom to
top, occipitals to frontal lobes till the hair looked like
a big blob of hairy hydrangeas and then more lacquer
and all that scrub, sweat and tiers took 3 hours and oh
it got worse trying to sleep on all that sticky prickly mess
the pain: all those pins keeping those curls in place as
piercing as pushpins, thumbtacks, jackknives, cacti,
the snapping teeth of 1000’s of saber-toothed tigers.

Three hours in the beauty shop and that hairdo cost
big bucks back then at least $15 + $1.50 tip (only 10%
back then).”That hairdo would cost at least $300 today,”
I say to Sally who laughs and says “I wouldn’t do it for a
$1000!” and then we both laugh at how stupid, how silly
the mistakes we make, the love affairs we create with
Hair from periwigs to Goldilocks, ducktails, flat-tops, be-
bop-a-lula crewcuts, bobs, spitcurls, That’s Amore
pompadours, manbuns, insane manes, put the blame
on Mame and fame manes, Hanoi Jane shag, Angela
Davis Afro, Baby, Age of Aquarius Hair, hair everywhere.

Hair today. Gone tomorrow.

PHOTO: The author modeling a petal-curled coiffure during the 1960s in a photo from the cover of her memoir Tales of an Ancient Go-Go Girl.


Joan Jobe Smith
, founding editor of Pearl and Bukowski Review, worked for seven years as a go-go dancer before receiving her BA from CSULB and MFA from University of California, Irvine. A Pushcart Honoree, her award-winning work has appeared internationally in more than five hundred publications, including Outlaw Bible, Ambit, Beat Scene, Wormwood Review, andNerve Cowboy—and she has published twenty collections, including Jehovah Jukebox (Event Horizon Press, US) and The Pow Wow Cafe (The Poetry Business, UK), a finalist for the UK 1999 Forward Prize. In July 2012, with her husband, poet Fred Voss, she did her sixth reading tour of England (debuting at the 1991 Aldeburgh Poetry Festival), featured at the Humber Mouth Literature Festival in Hull. She is the author of the literary memoir Charles Bukowski Epic Glottis: His Art & His Women (& me) (Silver Birch Press, 2012). Her writing is featured in LADYLAND, an anthology of writing by American women (13e note Éditions, Paris, 2014). Her poem “Uncle Ray on New Year’s Day . . .” won the 2012 Philadelphia Poets John Petracca Prize. Her latest book is Tales of an Ancient Go-Go Girl.