Head of a Young Boy 1945 by Pablo Picasso 1881-1973
Hair There and Everywhere
by James Penha

In high school I tried to hide my glabrous
pubes in the corner of the showers away
from the already hirsute boys who’d spin me
round and laugh at my infantilism or worse.
In college my cheeks were too peachy to be
taken seriously by sorority girls,
and even when I started teaching I had to fashion
a spirit-gummed moustache to give me gravitas.
Yet just in time for marches against Jim Crow
and Nixon, my hair unfurled and curled wildly
here, there, and everywhere tangled amidst evening
whiskers in Washington DC and Washington Square.
But now I find myself folliculated where hair
should never be: waving like wheat from ears
and ass, eyebrows vining halfway up a forehead,
and collecting wearily in every comb and brush.

IMAGE: “Head of a Young boy” by Pablo Picasso, 1945 (Tate, London).


A native New Yorker, James Penha has lived for the past quarter-century in Indonesia. He has been nominated for Pushcart Prizes in fiction and in poetry. Snakes and Angels, a collection of his adaptations of classic Indonesian folk tales, won the 2009 Cervena Barva Press fiction chapbook contest; No Bones to Carry, a volume of his poetry, earned the 2007 New Sins Press Editors’ Choice Award. Penha edits TheNewVerse.News, an online journal of current-events poetry. Visit him on Twitter @JamesPenha.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: A recent photograph — purposefully focused neither on the ears nor the nose of the poet.