Archives for category: MY MANE MEMORIES

blonde hair black roots
You Have Black Hairs
by A.J. Huffman

on your head, my two-and-a-half-year-old
niece exclaims with glee, pulling at the roots
a thousand moments of everyday
life prevent me from coloring for weeks
more than is considered acceptable. Like mine,
she squeals, holding a handful of her own
tiny curls to my scalp, forcing me to smile,
revel in the innocent acceptance, forget
that she does not understand the distinctive
streaks of gray weaving through the dark
and the accompanying denial that drives me
to bleach them, repeatedly, into temporary

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this piece because it was the sweetest reminder to color my overdue roots I had ever received.  Children just have a way of softening the blow on things that can be embarrassing or come across as rude when pointed out by an adult.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A.J. Huffman has published 12 solo chapbooks and one joint chapbook through various small presses.  Her new poetry collections, Another Blood Jet (Eldritch Press), A Few Bullets Short of Home (mgv2>publishing), Butchery of the Innocent (Scars Publications), Degeneration (Pink Girl Ink) and A Bizarre Burning of Bees (Transcendent Zero Press) are now available from their respective publishers and  She is a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, a two-time Best of Net nominee, and has published over 2,400 poems in various national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, Bone Orchard, EgoPHobia, and Kritya.  She is also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press.

Visiting Sheelin
by Marion Clarke

“Let me brush your hair,” you say,
“how’d you get it in such a state?”

And you scramble up onto those sharp, little knees
on that huge, unyielding hospital bed.

My friend and I, both college crows,
pick through the bones of your lunch leftovers.

You tut in mock annoyance,
I laugh with fake enjoyment
and relate how my tutor had to shake me awake
during a lesson, after Thursday’s folk session
in the student union bar.

My voice sounds shrill
as I babble to fill this sanitised space,
to chase away the silence
that frightens.

In those light-blue eyes, a knowing look
that belies your sixteen years,
no longer disguises that which
I will not — no, cannot — acknowledge.

And you hum as you brush
my unruly curls,
and I’m glad of a fringe
that covers my eyes.

Cherry Tree House, October, 1986
Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children

SOURCE: First published in Making Memories, CAP Poetry in Motion anthology, Belfast, 2015.

ABOUT THE POEM: Long listed for the Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing 2015.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Even at my brother’s wedding in England during the 1990s, my hair looks fairly untidy — although I obviously had my fringe cut as it wasn’t hiding my eyes (as in the poem).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Visiting Sheelίn” was written as a tribute to my younger sister, Sheelίn Bradley, who died just before her seventeenth birthday in October 1986. I didn’t set out to write a sad poem and I don’t think it is, as it was inspired by a happy memory of a particular afternoon. It seems strange to think that the event took place almost 30 years ago, as I remember it so vividly. I was a student in Belfast at the time and my friend and I visited Sheelίn in the Royal Victoria Hospital when she was undergoing treatment for Cystic Fibrosis. She often had to spend a week or two there during her short life and, tragically, this was to be her last stay in Cherry Tree House, the unit for teenagers. Sheelίn had a great sense of humour and used to make the doctors and consultants at the hospital laugh. She often brushed my hair as it was long, curly and often untidy, and the incident described in this poem was the last time she attempted to make me look presentable. I worked on this poem for years and only felt it ready for submission relatively recently. I was honoured to be invited to read it at the Heaney awards presentation in Belfast last April. I hope Sheelίn would have liked it.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marion Clarke is a writer and artist from Northern Ireland. Her Japanese-style, short form poetry has appeared in a variety of international journals dedicated to haiku, senryu, tanka, and haibun. Her poetry is featured in the first anthology of haiku from Ireland, Bamboo Dreams, and she received a Sakura award in the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Haiku Contest, 2012, and won London’s Poet in the City” Haiku Competition sponsored by the Financial Times last year. Marion’s free-form poetry has been long listed for the Desmond O’Grady Prize, 2013, as well as the inaugural Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing, 2015. Learn more at and

m sudlow
by Maureen Sudlow

as a child
I coveted the thick plaits
that adorned the heads of others
but that would never be my lot
my hair just would not grow
and if it showed any signs
of getting below my ears
was ruthlessly cut

our hair was washed outside
with a jug of cold water
to rinse the soap away
and sometimes I would sneak
the dregs from the beer
in an attempt to bring shine

but it could have been worse
my sister’s children
were shorn under a basin
and wandered through childhood
with fringes and two inch shelves
above their skinny necks

I thought they might be
left with trauma
from such treatment
but they survived

© Maureen Sudlow

PHOTO: The author as a child.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Maureen Sudlow is a resident of the Kaipara in the north of New Zealand. She is a member of The New Zealand Society of Authors and writes poetry and children’s picture books. Her poetry has been featured in various online and print journals, and she has just published her first poetry anthology Antipodes, which is available from her blog site

Golden Pixie
by Veronica Hosking

cut adorn
by single barrette
Young girl sits with tongue sticking out
stubborn as cowlick
golden locks

PHOTO: Taken about 1977 in Buffalo, New York.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My mom once told me this was her favorite photo of me. It was taken at Buffalo Children’s Hospital when I began physical therapy there for my cerebral palsy. Years later my fiancé found it and put it in a photo collage he made for my high school graduation. Yes, I married my high school sweetheart. The goofy picture haunts me to this day, because the collage still hangs in my house. My husband and I will be celebrating our 20th anniversary this October.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Veronica Hosking is a wife, mother, and poet. She lives in the desert southwest with her husband and two daughters. Her family and day job, cleaning the house, serve as inspiration for most of her poetry. She was the poetry editor for MaMaZina magazine 2006-2011.”Spikier Spongier” appeared in Stone Crowns magazine (November 2013). “Desperate Poet” was posted on the Narrator International website and reprinted in Poetry Nook. She has had several poems published by Silver Birch Press. Follow her poetry blog at

Rajapakse (child)
Out of Control
by Shirani Rajapakse

Curls on my head move
this way and that
like bougainvillea in
my grandmother’s garden
dancing in
the breeze. They lift
faces to the sky, wave to birds
flying high or murmur
with butterflies
that flutter in looking for nectar and are
surprised there is none
on my head. Ringlets black and shiny
twisting and turning in whatever
direction they desire and not
how I wish. They
will not turn left when
I want them to
preferring to move in
the opposite direction to my command
or curl and swirl
both ways,
one day left the next day right.
There’s never a time when they rest.
A mind of their own
they thrive on being free
to do as they please
while ribbons and bows cannot hold
or reign them in. They break
the rules. Dance to
their own tunes and
will not ever be held down.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: In my grandmother’s garden celebrating my fourth birthday.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shirani Rajapakse is a Sri Lankan poet and author. She won the Cha “Betrayal” Poetry Contest 2013 and was a finalist in the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Awards 2013. Her collection of short stories, Breaking News (Vijitha Yapa 2011) was shortlisted for the Gratiaen Award. Shirani’s work appears in International Times, Writers for Calais Refugees, The Write-In, Silver Birch Press, Asian Signature, Moving Worlds, Citiesplus, Deep Water Literary Journal, Mascara Literary Review, Kitaab, Lakeview Journal, Cyclamens & Swords, Channels, Linnet’s Wings, Spark, Berfrois, Counterpunch, Earthen Lamp Journal, Asian Cha, Dove Tales, Buddhist Poetry Review, About Place Journal, Skylight 47, The Smoking Poet, New Verse News, The Occupy Poetry Project — and in anthologies, including Flash Fiction International (Norton 2015), Ballads (Dagda 2014), Short & Sweet (Perera Hussein 2014), Poems for Freedom (River Books 2013), Voices Israel Poetry Anthology 2012, Song of Sahel (Plum Tree 2012), Occupy Wall Street Poetry Anthology, World Healing World Peace (Inner City Press 2012 & 2014), and Every Child Is Entitled to Innocence (Plum Tree, 2012).

Breakup Hair
by Katie Darby Mullins

Sometimes, cutting it all off isn’t enough
to make a clean life between where you
are going and who you have been: sometimes
you have to scorch the earth, start over.
Use it. What was once flat—so flat
like limp weight, hanging over your shoulders—
will be new. These tight curls, these spirals
surrounding your slight face, smile:
there he is, the only man on a campus
of boys, slight stutter and wavy locks,
and he’s looking at you
and he works in New York now
and he can probably hear your heart beat from here
and he offers to show you ‘around town’
and you know (and are sad) it’s not a metaphor
and—look at you.
          Your mom taught you never to get a perm
Why in God’s name did you get a perm?
Now? But you can’t worry about that—
it is time to work with the frizzy mess
orbiting your usually sleek head,
time to shake those curls with laughter
and pretend that the whole time, you aren’t
just wishing you had shaved it.
At least that would set you apart from
those stupid New York girls.
And maybe, maybe this time, things
will be different, and they won’t end
in a barber’s chair, making a decision
between a bad color and a bad cut.

PHOTO: The author sporting a perm in 2008.


Katie Darby Mullins
teaches creative writing at the University of Evansville. In addition to being nominated for a Pushcart Prize and editing a rock ‘n roll crossover edition of the metrical poetry journal Measure, she’s been published or has work forthcoming in journals like Hawaii Pacific Review, Harpur Palate, Prime Number, Big Lucks, Pithead Chapel, The Evansville Review, and she was a semifinalist in the Ropewalk Press Fiction Chapbook competition and in the Casey Shay Press poetry chapbook competition. She’s also the lead writer and founder of the music blog
Katie Darby Recommends.

Face in the Mirror
by Kerfe Roig

had long
hair. Straight. Waist-length.
What was I thinking?
I was thinking: Change. New.
Reinvention. I thought: Bold.
Happy. Admiration. Envy.
Compliments and An Exciting Life.
Blame it on Charley’s Angels. Blame it
on Carly, Fashion, Photographs
in Magazines, Vanity…
But wait—didn’t I feel
didn’t I know?
That mirror
was not

Illustration by the author, with a nod to Man Ray

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In the 1970s, a graduate of fashion school and working in the fashion industry, I decided I needed a makeover. So I cut the long straight hair that remained from my hippie days and embarked on a series of permanents. It didn’t take too long for me to realize that the hair I was born with suited me best, and it has remained straight ever since.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kerfe Roig enjoys transforming words and images (but no longer her hair) into something new. You can follow her explorations on the blog she does with her friend Nina at

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Taken at work during the 1970s.

by Judy Kronenfeld

1956: the charged air of the “beauty parlor,”
slivered with the acetone of nail polish remover,
flammable with mists of hair spray and silver
and gold highlighters, heavy with the slick
sweetness of pomade, cacophonous with blasts
of hood hair-dryers, and fang-nailed women,
fingers held aloft, raising the gossip
decibels as they turn the pages of True Confessions
with their wrists. Presiding: the pompadoured hetero
hairdresser—lordly as Monsieur Champagne,
creating towering tresses plied with taffeta
and lace in seventeenth-century Paris—
dallying even with me, barely-into-adolescence,
bestowing hello and goodbye kisses
which promise and seal
the allure for sale.

Fifty years later, at the salon specializing
in the deceptive color that maintains
an illusion of fertile power: still the unasked-for embrace
from the hairdresser, intimate stranger,
co-conspirator, in on the staging,
the props. His manner: a dark comic’s,
a doctor’s, a date’s: first jocular with shaver
in hand (“bare scalp is the new
‘crop’”); then patiently listening—a little bit
aloof—to what went awry last time,
what is desired now; then flirtatious,
as if pitching the witchery he’s sure
to create.

Monsieur Champagne once turned
on a woman whose hair he’d been assembling,
and told her—wielding stilettos of tu,
instead of vous—no style would ever
compensate for her huge nose;
then abandoned her—half-concocted—
and walked out.

But my kind coiffeur only inserts
his toweled thumbs a little roughly
into my wet ears, after my shampoo—
as if to dry those whorls gently
were indecorous—and bends
over my lined face to wrap
the towel around my head,
and says nothing to suggest
how much more I need him
than he me.

SOURCE: Originally published in Soundings Review (Fall/Winter 2013).

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: My 70s hair—steel wool variant. With my shining-haired daughter, 1976, West Lafayette, Indiana.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Hair” came directly out of the felt awkwardness of an ordinary human relationship—between a woman and her (newish) hairdresser. An impulse towards widening and broadening led me to memories of my first such experiences, and, quite luckily, to a bit of research which unearthed some fascinating information about the first French “celebrity coiffeur,” who served aristocrat clients in seventeenth-century Paris. Wonderfully, the vulnerability of even elite women when having their hair “concocted” emerged from my limited trolling on the web, and chimed with my own.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Judy Kronenfeld’s fourth full-length collection of poetry, Bird Flying Through the Banquet, will be published by FutureCycle Press in 2017. Her most recent prior books of poetry are Shimmer (WordTech Editions, 2012) and the second edition of Light Lowering in Diminished Sevenths (Antrim House, 2012), winner of the 2007 Litchfield Review Poetry Book Prize; her most recent chapbook is Ghost Nurseries (Finishing Line, 2005). Her poems have appeared in many print and online journals (such as Avatar, Calyx, Cimarron Review, Connotation Press, Innisfree Poetry Journal, Natural Bridge, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and Sequestrum), and  in 18 anthologies, including Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose about Alzheimer’s Disease (Kent State, 2009), Before There Is Nowhere to Stand: Palestine/Israel: Poets Respond to the Struggle (Lost Horse, 2012), and Weatherings (Future Cycle Press, 2015).  She has poems forthcoming in the anthologies Far Out: Poems of the 60s (Wings Press), and Bared (Femmes Folles Press), among other places.  Judy is Lecturer Emerita, Creative Writing Department, UC Riverside, and an Associate Editor of the online poetry journal, Poemeleon. Visit her at

My Mane, My Daughter’s Glory
by Joan Leotta

My straight brown hair,
Soft, though thick,
burnished with red highlights,
refused to conform to
any of the styles or treatments
of the nineteen fifties.
At last, in the sixties,
when others resorted to irons, I
could glory in a crown of hair
that naturally cascaded from
head to shoulders to waist—
coiffure du jour without effort.
Though I reveled in this, my one vanity,
style soon passed me by again.
Bouffants and close short clips
are not for me. Through the years I have remained
singularly straight of hairdo,
not so much stubborn, as simply bereft of
talent to change and unwilling to cut it often.
Our daughter was born with my hair.
She revels the way its
burnished chestnut beauty,
frames her delicate, ivory oval face.
“Glad I inherited your hair, Mom.”
Unlike me, she manages to tame it
into ringlets, into a chignon,
into a perfect pageboy—all at her command.
When it exceeds a certain length,
she donates those
surplus inches to
Locks of Love.
She may have my hair,
as all who see us together tell her,
but she is completely herself
in styling her tresses
in making our mane her glory.

PHOTO: The author and her daughter Jennie at the foot of the Spanish Steps in Rome (December 2014).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This was a tough prompt! My hair is my one vanity so I had many little stories and ideas. Finally I settled on this one — the passing on of my trait to my daughter, but how she remains an individual with it. My hair is now completely gray — underneath a clever dye job. I can now say I imitate her glorious “mane.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Leotta has been playing with words since childhood. Joan recently completed a month as one of Tupelo Press’s 30/30 poets. She has published or has work forthcoming in Red WolfA Quiet CourageEastern Iowa Review, Silver Birch Press, and Postcard Poems and Prose. Joan also performs folklore and one-woman shows on historic figures. She lives in Calabash, North Carolina, where she walks the beach with husband Joe. She collects shells, pressed pennies, and memories.  Visit her at and on Facebook.

Mother combing her daughter
Rats’ nests
by Lee Parpart

You lean in with your comb drawn like a switchblade.

“If you can’t take care of your hair, we’ll have to cut it off.”

The look of frazzled discontent as you work your slender, ringless fingers through a frizzy brown clump the size of an apricot.

“Look at these rats’ nests.”

Your own blond mane falls perfectly straight. You complain about its thinness and say you admire my curls, but this is the price we pay for our difference. An hour spent perched on the bed, fighting nature.

“Stop! In the Name of Love” skips to a finish on the blue record player box in a corner of the room.

You cross the floor quickly in shimmering semi-opaque tights, mini dress a canvas of brown and orange circles edged in white. I think you are leaving but you restart the song and return to my side.

“Keep still,” you whisper. Then “please,” as an afterthought.

In your head, I know, you are hunched in a graduate school cubicle, writing a paper on Marx. Or feminism. Or Marxist feminism. Wondering when the divorce papers will arrive. Whether the lawyer managed to get a signature at the hospital.

The needle skates across the smooth end of the LP and taps against the metal pin.

You hit a sore spot and my feet criss-cross under me as I try not to cry out.

That morning, I annoyed you, for what felt like the thousandth time, with my inability to choose the right socks before school. Refusing all dozen identical white anklets for the same reason: “They don’t feel right.”

You work in silence, beginning to make progress on one of the rats’ nests. Mentally crafting the body of your paper, or maybe its conclusion. I study your face for clues, and think about The Supremes, with their perfect shoulder-flip do’s.

PHOTO: “Mother combing daughter’s hair” by Milaphoto, used by permission.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lee Parpart is a poet and media studies writer based in Toronto, Canada, who has taught film studies and published widely on Canadian cinema and visual art. Her older poems appeared in the tiny, pre-digital literary magazine Hegira, and her newer work is beginning to move out of its cramped Mac folder and into the world. One of her poems appeared in Silver Birch Press’s “Same Name” series in January 2016.