Archives for category: MY MANE MEMORIES

smiling Indian Cute Little Girl
Road to a different look
by Vijaya Gowrisankar

The gentle, soft voice of my grandma
Sharing stories of my mother and aunts
Their lovely tresses, black and thick
Tied in plaits, as tradition expects
Swaying to the gentle winds as they walked
Across the lush fields, to go to school…

Watching the scissors at play in a tailor’s shop
As she cut away the cloth with a snip-snip sound
As I waited for the bus to pick me up for school
A daily fascination at the sound and power
That the scissors held over the colorful cloths
Challenged my curiosity and imagination, till one fine day

When my mother came home from work that evening
She found the scissors on the floor with a trail of hair
From the hall, to the kitchen, to the bedroom floor
My hair was cut at any angle that my hands found fit
In an attempt to make the perfect plait with ribbons, using scissors
I remember my mother’s stunned silence instead of praise

Every barber in the area was tested for suggestions to salvage my hair
My mother’s disappointment when they shook their heads in awe
Their endless looks of disbelief, the barrage of questions they asked
Till finally…My friends saw me sporting a boy cut the next day at school
My mirror as friend, I stood for ages, familiarizing my new look
That became my identity for the coming years, as a result of this           experiment

PHOTO: “Smiling girl, India” by V.R. Murralinath, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: From class 1 to 4, I sported short hair due to my need for adventure and attempts to mix two ideas to get interesting results. There are many such stories, this being one of them.


Vijaya Gowrisankar
 released her second book of poems Reflect in December 2015. Her first book, Inspire, published in December 2014, reached the bestseller status. She was announced as one of the winners of Inspire by Gandhi competition, organized by Sampad, a UK organization. She has been announced as the Winner of AZsacra International Poetry Award (Dec. 2015). Her submissions have been published in Forwardian, Triadae Magazine, iWrite India, Taj Mahal Review, along with Silver Birch Press.

bambina dal parrucchiere
(hack job haiku)
by Tricia Marcella Cimera

after my dad cut
my bangs, the devastation
too short! ah the horror

PHOTO: “Little girl at the hair salon” by L. Santilli, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: There was no shortage of material to consider for this writing prompt. Pixie cuts and perms alike rose hideously to mind. How when puberty arrived my hair changed from thin, blonde, and straight to thick, brown and bushy. I chose, however, to focus on the brief but bizarre time when I was nine years old and my dad decided to “trim up” my bangs because he had nothing better to do and my mom wasn’t home. There is no photographic evidence of this butchery, thank Jah. As I sat on the school bus the next day, my best friend walked right past me; I was unrecognizable.


Tricia Marcella Cimera
is an obsessed reader and lover of words. Look for her work (some forthcoming) in these diverse places: the Buddhist Poetry Review, Dead Snakes, Foliate Oak, Fox Adoption Magazine, Hedgerow: A Journal of Small Poems, I Am Not a Silent Poet, Mad Swirl, Silver Birch Press and Yellow Chair Review, as well as others. Tricia volunteers locally, believes there’s no place like her own backyard, and has traveled the world. She wishes she could keep her hair tucked in an elegant French chignon but no can do. She lives with her husband and family of animals in Illinois/in a town called St. Charles/by a river named Fox.

PHOTO: The author in 2015, taking a selfie for an unsuccessful creative endeavor. Her bangs are at a decent length.

Little girl combing her hair
by Nancy Brewka-Clark

The average human head has 100,000 hairs,
giving women 100,000 ways to suffer.

After birth, black wisps
fall out. Brown filaments
grow in the follicles,
the brown of damp earth,
the brown of night soil,
the brown of Victorian studies.

Mummy, hopeful of changing
every hair on this Slavic head
before the class photo, snips
with the kitchen scissors until
the uneven jack o’lantern grin
matches an asymmetrical
Chinese fringe meant for thick
skeins of black silk, not one-ply
Eastern European post-war thread.

There’s a hair-curling change
in the air. The final solution,
pearlescent pink, reeks in a dish.
Tin jaws snap onto saturated hanks.
The timer clicks like a bomb.
There’s no long-lasting fluff
from this stuff, just brief kinks.

Life unfurls without curls. Every
parting’s a crooked sorrow with
a widow’s peak. That’s the long
and the short of it, some years tucked
behind the ears, others, cropped.
Never bleached, now natural brown
pales to the hue of a heavenly crown.
Once it was as common as dirt.
Now it’s to dye for.

PHOTO: “Little girl combing her hair” by Maria Bobrova, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: For this particular poem, which is new and unpublished, all I had to do was to remember all the years of baby-fine hair and have one last laugh over it.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nancy Brewka-Clark’s poetry has appeared in numerous publications and collections, including The North American Review, Thomas Merton: Poetry of the Sacred, and Visiting Frost: Poems Inspired by the Life and Work of Robert Frost published by The University of Iowa Press. She lives with her husband Tom on Boston’s North Shore, where poetry has flourished for almost 400 years. For more on her poetry as well as published fiction, nonfiction, and drama, please visit her website

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: I’ve always looked like this.

five dollar haircut
$5 Haircut
by Jeri Thompson

As a woman, I have had many
different cuts, combs and curls:
from kinky tight perm (ugh) to long swaying layers
from cute pixie to punky pink tail,
yet nothing prepared me for the $5 haircut
I got from the beauty college down the street.
I remember the date well, October 13, 2012
— like a black Monday Wall Street massacre —
hair on the floor and blood on the walls.

I thought she understood what I wanted,
I thought we spoke the same language,
but that is no guarantee of communication.
This haircut — a failed sociological experiment
where I learn
words mean different things to different people.

I’m at the age of the hip senior
rocking the gray-spikey cliché.
I don’t want that. After the first snip, it’s too late.
Why do I always smile and compliment the cutter
right before I go home and cry and/or re-cut my hair?

When I got home, even my mirror didn’t recognize me.
Before me, a chubby middle-aged high school
bowling teacher from the 70s.
My eyes could not unscramble my face.
With not much length left to fix, I became dizzy and confused.
There is only one option…to wait it out…and invest in hat futures.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Resident of the poetry capital of the world, Long Beach, California! Seriously, there is a lot of talent here. Jeri Thompson has been writing again seriously for the last two years and recently appeared in RedLightLit, Mas Tequila Review, Lummox, and soon to appear in Chiron Review. She has been nominated for one Pushcart Prize (2014).

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Sporting the $5 haircut in Long Beach, California.

aged and worn vintage photo of neon barber shop sign
Getting a Florida Haircut
by Mark Hudson

This winter, I went a long time without a haircut,
because where I live, everything is expensive, even haircuts.
I live on a starving artist budget. So I was going to Florida
to visit my dad, I figured I’d get the old man to pay for
a haircut. It’s cheaper in Florida.
So my dad needed a haircut, so did my nephew,
and me. So we went to a place called “Big Al’s.” A family
barber shop, meaning it was run by a family.
When we walked in, the people looked like they
were dressed like Harley-Davidson people. The lady
who was to cut my hair cut a man’s hair, and he said,
“Well, that was a quickie.”
And the female barber said, “Been there, done that!”
That was TMI, too much information.
Then in the corner, I heard a male barber telling
political jokes, and I heard him make an off-color comment about
Bill Clinton. I was hoping
it would go over my ten-year-old nephew’s head.
I got my haircut, and chopped it off. I went first,
then I did a sketch of my dad getting a haircut. It turned
out good.
As we left the building, I noticed another building,
owned by the Big Al’s crew.
I said to my dad, “What’s that?”
My dad said, “That’s a separate business they have
for cutting dogs’ hair.”
I was just grateful that my haircut came out okay. And
it was a good bonding experience for the males in my family,
my dad, my nephew, and me.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark Hudson is a poet and writer, artist and photographer. His poetry was featured in the Silver Birch Press “My Sweet Word,” “Me, During the Holidays,” and “Same Name” Series.  His work has been most often anthologized in Grey Wolfe publications in Michigan,  and he has also had science fiction poems appear in Handshake, an irregular Science Fiction Newsletter in England.

Young woman at hairdresser
Things Left Unsaid
by Bekah Steimel

Four days ago
I got my blonde locks
chopped and thinned
my hairdresser
said something
that caught my ear
she told me our hair
tells the story of how we live
everything we put
in our bodies
shows up in our hair
everything we consume
everything we let in
I wanted to tell her
that is not true
my lovers
would never show up
on some strand
the women behind my heartbeat
behind my smile
you’ll never find them
on my scalp
but they are how I live
that’s what I wanted to say
I just smiled
and tipped her five dollars

SOURCE: This poem first appeared in The Legendary in 2014. The poem is the true story of a haircut.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bekah Steimel is a poet aspiring to be a better poet. She lives in St. Louis and can be found online at and followed @BekahSteimel on Twitter and Instagram.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This is a selfie taken in 2013.

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.

vangogh self portrait
The Weary Man Speaks of His Hair
by Steve Klepetar

I am of the race of bearded men, we look well
in flannel. Many times I’ve shut my eyes
and in stippled darkness seen myself knee-deep
in snow striding through frosted pines
for the smoking cabin, strings of wild duck
dangling, flapping from my red plaid shoulders,
bleeding a trail I never need. My hair, black,
but iron now with gray grows thicker every year.
It lives with a will to twist and curl. It’s snaky
as Medusa’s, and I’ve trained it to behave
this well, even this well only with the patience
gained by years of living with an idiot underling.
On my chest and legs it undulates like high summer
wheat when a front blasts through, and I’ve woken
to find myself wrapped to the headboard, shouting
threats of a barber shop bloodbath.
And sometimes in the shower, muffled by pelting
drops and thick foam, it hunkers down and purrs!

IMAGE: Self-Portrait by Vincent van Gogh (1887).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem more than 30 years ago when I was a young professor working on a series of “Weary Man” poems. My hair was mostly black (it is pretty much white now) and very thick (now I have a bald spot in the middle of my head, like a monk’s tonsure). My university ID picture bore an uncomfortable resemblance to Charles Manson; my hair was like another, recalcitrant entity I tried unsuccessfully to tame. This poem was an homage to that living thing.


Steve Klepetar
’s work has appeared worldwide, in such journals as A New Ulster, Boston Literary Magazine, Deep Water, Expound, The Muse: India, Red River Review, Snakeskin, Voices Israel, Ygdrasil, and many others. Several of his poems have been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize (including three in 2015). Recent collections include My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto (Flutter Press) and Return of the Bride of Frankenstein (Kind of a Hurricane Press). His new chapbook, The Li Bo Poems, is forthcoming from Flutter Press.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Dancing with my hair and my granddaughter Lizzy — my living room, 2010.

The Backcomb Beauties
by Chloe Balcomb

Blonde Marie had perfect skin, porcelain pale,
she spoke seven languages and knew her way
around a comb, taught me how to scaffle roots
and strands into a nest, to transform waves
into three-inch spikes. Each Friday night
we’d lacquer up in my room, slick on lipstick,
eyeliner, oversized coats. So there we were,
myself, Mad Clare and the backcomb beauties,
Chrissie in her astrakhan, Tall Jo, Little Dawn
and the rest of the flock, a charm of rare birds,
crowned and crested, winging our way down
West Street, sipping from hipflasks, alighting
on the dance floor, all feather, foot and attitude,
Sheffield’s boldest barnets, flying in formation.

PHOTO: Backcomb Beauty, 1983.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Thinking about hairstyles, I was reminded of my years as a student in Sheffield and the amazing young women I shared a house with. It was the early 80s and big hair was in. We had a lot of fun, but were also strongly motivated by the feminist movement at that time. We dressed for ourselves and cared for and respected each other, both emotionally and intellectually. This is something I wanted to get across in the poem and also to challenge the pejorative use of the word “bird” to describe women. “Barnet” is a slang word for hair in the U.K.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Chloe Balcomb is an English poet, author, and therapist based in Yorkshire, United Kingdom. Inspiration for her stories and poems comes not only from personal anecdotes and memories (her own and those of others) but also from myth, inner journeys, and the landscape around her.

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.