Archives for category: MY MANE MEMORIES

Miss Frizzle
by Susan W. Goldstein

This is what you want to hear from your hairdresser:




This is what you do NOT want to hear:


—heavy silence—

Then​: “Why didn’t you​ tell​ me you colored your hair???!!!”

I was at Erich, “Hairdresser to the Stars,” for my first perm. He styled all the senior managers’ wives at my office in Indianapolis. I was treating myself and couldn’t wait. Erich hissed as he unrolled curlers that had promised beautiful, bouncy waves. Why was he upset? I was frozen with apprehension. The answer became clear after he finished. My hair was fried. I looked like I had been hit by lightning. ​Twice​. Incredibly, ​he​ was angry at ​me​. “If you had told me, I would have used different chemicals!”

“Well, you didn’t ​ask​ me,” I was thisclose to tears. He was the hair professional. Not me. I stared in horror at my Bride of Frankenstein reflection, but my polite Midwestern personality was warring with the need to be assertive. I actually felt badly for ​him​, and heard myself reassuring this hair butcher that all was fine. I even tipped him, but refused to return so that he could “work” on it. I was never stepping into his salon again. I went home and made brownies, eating the whole damned pan.

My hair and I flew home to visit my parents the next weekend. Dad was waiting at the airport gate, and didn’t recognize this wild­-maned girl flinging herself at him. He looked stunned and was speechless the entire ride home.

Mom knew what to expect, having impotently listened to my hysterical phone calls. She pulled me into a big hug, whispering: “I made an appointment with my hairdresser for tomorrow.”

I held on tightly, so relieved to be home. Moms can fix anything.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Egads, I must have destroyed all the evidence! This photo shows me at least two years later, still trying to grow out the perm. I wish you could have seen me in my split ends splendor…

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Good god, I really screwed up my social life for quite a while, waiting for this crummy, crappy, awful perm to grow out. There really wasn’t much that could be done, other than chop it all off and that was not an option. At first I hid at home, but that became too fattening. Since it was the Disco 70s, I just thought “Oh, well,” bought a ‘fro comb and soon was stylin’ as I hit the dance floor.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan W. Goldstein has led a peripatetic life, but found a true home in South Florida. A major in English from DePauw University always proved helpful, whether writing up marketing research reports or composing fairly decent emails. She is an active member of Women’s National Book Association, South Florida Chapter, and has been published in the literary blog Mothers Always Write. These are her baby steps as she grows into a published author.

Robin Age 10
Porcupine Hair
by Robin Dawn Hudechek

When my babysitter set down the shears,
I looked into the mirror,
told her I liked the haircut,
tried to sound sincere and couldn’t.

My thick hair, shiny as a blackbird’s wing
when it lay flat against my back
sprouted from my head in spiky curls,
unruly as the weeds shooting up every spring
through cracks in our sidewalk
at the edges of our lawn.

No matter what I did with my brush or comb
my hair stuck out over my ears, under my ears
and the back of my head.
I blamed myself for that awful haircut.

We couldn’t afford a salon cut,
so my babysitter volunteered.
When I tried to describe what I wanted,
waves curling at my shoulders
with a glow only the Breck girl could rival,
she tried to follow my instructions, but failed.
The kids already had enough reasons to pick on me,
my bowlegged walk and hyperactivity that
led me to get up and dance around the room
or hum a symphony in my head over my drawings,
as lines flowed through my fingers
and my characters leapt to life on the page.

My drawings were “messy,”
and the art teacher felt sorry for me, they said.
None of them ever mentioned my drawings
filling one whole wall of the art room,
a series of historic moments–
Paul Revere’s famous ride and Pocahontas
rushing to stop the executioner from smashing
John Smith’s head with a club.

With my outrageous haircut
I could have been a punk rock Medusa
long before technicolor punk hair
or dreadlocks were considered cool.
I could have been have been a Powhatan warrior
like the fierce men ranging themselves behind Pocahontas’s father,
their mohawks worn proudly as bright plumes.

The kids made sure I would never feel the pride
of an Powhatan warrior, a punk rock star, or a feminist-rebel.
The school photographer gave the pretty girls
names like Missy, Princess, or Peaches.
I was Porcupine. He snapped the photo
with a chuckle and ushered me
out of the room as quickly as he could.

PHOTO: The author at age 10.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  I was nine years old when my babysitter cut my hair and was teased unmercifully almost every day about it for months until it finally grew into the much more manageable style seen here in my fifth grade school photo. I was unable to find my fourth grade photo, the one the photographer took as he dubbed me “Porcupine.” I doubt he realized how insensitive his comment was, or how humiliating it was for me. Somehow, the photographer’s comment, so thoughtlessly cruel, only seemed to validate what the kids said about me, that I was so ugly and weird that even a professional photographer could find nothing kind to say about me or my hair. Like most girls my age, I longed to be pretty and liked by everyone. Fortunately, time can sometimes be kind, and the snide comments from school kids gradually faded away, as did the quizzical looks from people too polite to say what they really thought about my hair. I could look in the mirror again without wincing. I was pretty (no matter what the kids said), and I cherished the secret thought that one day they would notice, and the teasing would end.

robin hudechek 2a

Robin Dawn Hudechek
received her MFA in creative writing from UCI. Her poems have recently appeared in Caliban Online, Verse-Virtual, Poemeleon, Chiron Review and The Hummingbird Review. Her chapbook, Ice Angels was published in IDES: A collection of Chapbooks, Silver Birch Press, October 2015.  Robin lives in Laguna Beach, California, with her husband, Manny, and two beautiful cats. More of her poetry can be found at

by Anita S. Pulier

I am stuck in the shampoo aisle
The aisle is Olympic in size.
I read the promises on the labels
oily hair, curly hair, dry hair,
split ends, frizzy hair, all promising
transformation, one into the other.
Oh! How clearly I recall the girl
who believed these labels,
trusted them, allowed her frizzy mane
to be offered up as a willing sacrifice.
And then I met you
and somewhere along the way
I switched to shampoo
that made no promises.
Shampoo for normal regular
whatever is on your head hair.
Now, so many shampoos
later, as I suds up,
my hair curls in gratitude
to whatever it was that you saw
so many years ago
when you decided to stay.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: From my Joan Baez days.

SOURCE: Previously published by Finishing Line Press in the author’s chapbook The Lovely Mundane and in “Your Daily Poem” online.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Memories of my teenage years include ironing my long curly wavy hair, wrapping it wet around my head, using gels and cremes in desperation to get it to look like Joan Baez’s silky mane. This poem recalls those years and gives credit to my psychiatrist husband for my recovery from a hair obsession.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: After retiring from her New York law practice, Anita S. Pulier served as a U. S. representative for the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom at the United Nations. Her chapbooks Perfect Diet and The Lovely Mundane were published by Finishing Line Press. Anita’s poems have appeared in many journals both online and in print.

Back Home from the Drug Store
by Phyllis Klein

See the products of adolescence, the pink
hair scotch tape, rollers, sprays and dippity-do
strewn on the bathroom counter. Watch me
pray for low humidity so no curl would bend
the strands. It had to be straight and pouffy,
a hard enough task with what little I had to offer.

I wonder how it feels to have
the long luxury I see in school, waving and
wagging like shiny precious metals, flipped
or pageboyed with bangs.

I want the flat stomach and full hair,
not the other way. I want to escape genetics.
I want just one boy to notice me without teasing.
I want my mother to stop yelling. I want to borrow
some hair from Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor,
and Faye Dunaway. Tomorrow, it’s another
drug run for a new brand of hair spray.

PHOTO: The author’s college graduation picture, many products on board.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I love the invitation to write about hair, something I’ve wanted more of my entire life. Its was a feeling of poverty, a symbol of what I couldn’t have, especially heightened, as is everything physical, in adolescence. I needed to learn how to accept what I do have, a good exercise for peaceful coexistence with myself and in the world. Lately, my hair has lost all its curl. How ironic that the thing I wished I could banish is the same as what I miss so much now! It’s okay though, I’m grateful for what remains.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Phyllis Klein believes in poetry. Her work has appeared in the Pharos of Alpha Omega Medical Society Journal, Emerge literary journal, Qarrtsiluni online literary magazine, Silver Birch Press, The Four Seasons Anthology (Hurricane Press, 2015), and forthcoming in Crosswinds Poetry Journal and Chiron Review. She is very interested in the conversation between poets and readers of poetry. She sees artistic dialogue as an intimate relationship-building process that fosters healing on many levels. She lives and works in the San Francisco Bay area as a psychotherapist and poetry therapist. You can learn more at her website,

roberta n2
The Long and Short of It
by Robbi Nester

Once, I dreaded nothing more
than the two words “pixie cut.”
Feathery and fey, just barely
covering my ears. Wasn’t it
bad enough to have the stature
of an imp without the haircut too?

Like others cursed or blessed
with curls, I wish for nothing
but a thick straight do, growing
past my shoulders, down my back.
No braids for me, no smooth straight bob.
Grown long, my hair puffs out
around my head, a ball of baling wire,
dandelion gone to seed.

Nothing to do but snip it
till it piles around my ankles.
Hairdressers have shown me
the part I never see, lacking
a rearview mirror. Orderly curls
and waves others can only envy,
once pruned judiciously,
topiary in a formal garden.
But somehow, after I leave the shop,
each wave rebels, springing
sideways from my head,
refusing to be quelled.

I once fought every follicle,
but now I’m wiser.
Why should my hair be different
from the rest of me,
wanting its own way,
obstinate and ornery
as a river following its course,
however inconvenient?

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: I thought this photo from my high school yearbook (Northeast High School, Philadelphia, 1971) would give some idea about the hair in question. I have difficult hair. Over the years, I have become reconciled to accepting its wayward behavior.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I saw this submission call, I knew I had to write about my hair, which has always been an obsession, one of the difficult parts of being myself. My hair’s natural wave and curls, combined with its thin texture, render it difficult to cut. Consequently, I’ve had lots of disastrous haircuts and more than my share of bad hair days. But on good days, it is also capable of amazing things.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robbi Nester is the author of a chapbook, Balance (White Violet, 2012), a collection of poems, A Likely Story (Moon Tide, 2014), and a forthcoming collection, Other-Wise (Tebot Bach). She also edited an anthology of poems inspired by public media, The Liberal Media Made Me Do It (Nine Toes, 2014).

Losing Paradise
by Elizabeth Alford

my hair was once long
and too thick — like
the swollen-bellied serpent
who may not feast again
for six months

too easily whipped
by the merciless wind
like a slave who needs
one moment
just to breathe

and seeking respite
from split ends
is as fruitless
as the endeavors of Eden

we were slaves then —
conditioned to obey
God, desire,
even the snake

yet we didn’t just eat
we devoured it

my hair was once long
and too thick — but now,
I think I’m losing it

my combs and brushes
are full of shame, and I can’t look
myself in the face

and every strand that drifts away
is another fall from grace

PHOTO: The poet’s high school yearbook photo from 2005.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: According to WebMD, “losing up to 100 hairs a day is normal.” Okay.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elizabeth Alford is a college grad with a B.A. in English and a PhD in caffeine addiction. She lives in Hayward, California, with her loving fiancé, mother, and two dopey dogs. Her favorite things include yerba mate, sushi, loud music on long drives, staring at the stars, and short poetry. Her work has appeared in print in Occam’s Razor and also online at Poetry Super Highway, Haikuniverse, Quatrain.Fish, Poetry Expressed, and the blogs of Silver Birch Press and Creative Talents Unleashed. Follow her poetry adventures @

Jaggers 1.jpg
Full Corn Moon
by Trish Lindsey Jaggers

The week I turn forty, I win
a free cut and style.
Momma used to cut my hair
in the old moon so it wouldn’t grow
as fast; her scissors arched along red edges
of the ceramic bowl she pushed over my head.
She said it grew stringy and knotty,
misbehaved beneath her brush.

Now, hair falls again
behind my reflection in the stylist’s mirror.
My head bobs, tries to agree with this razor—
nine irrevocable inches,
dark, dry, and kinky as tassels
on ripe corn.
Outside, Midday’s crayon-blue
hides a waxing moon while, inside,
the blades’ chilled breath
blows kisses against my bared neck.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: I hated the dreaded “bowl cut.” Here I am, all dolled up for Easter — replete with lobbed-off hair. (Louisville, Kentucky, 1968)

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I spent my childhood coveting girls’ long hair. To exacerbate my jealousy, the young men I went to school with were also growing their hair and had locks that slapped their backs with every step. I envied all the styles they had at their disposal: ponytails, pigtails, braids. . .All of it. I had about an inch-and-a-half of growth beyond my scalp. The battle was not with my hair’s growth. It grew just fine. My mother simply didn’t want to deal with it and the tangles. She believed if she cut my hair in the old moon it would slow the growth. The moon controlled more than just the tides. I learned the moon’s cycles and came to cherish a waxing moon — believing that if she accidentally cut my hair during one, it would come bounding out, like silks tasseled on corn. As soon as I was old enough to care for it myself, I grew it long and cut it only in the full moon.

Jaggers 2.jpg

Trish Lindsey Jaggers
, author of the upcoming collection Holonym (Finishing Line Press, February 2016) and an award-winning Kentucky poet, feminist, educator, amateur photographer, vintage/antique collector (as well as wife, mother, and grandmother), has published in numerous literary magazines, journals, books, zines, and anthologies. She makes her home on a small farm in Chalybeate, Kentucky, where she divides her time among the quiet spaces nature so abundantly offers, family, collecting, travel, and full-time teaching composition, literature, and creative writing at Western Kentucky University. As with the perfect poem, piece of prose, photograph, and antique, she finds the elusive most intriguing and worthy of the time spent in search of it. Visit her on Facebook and Twitter.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: I grew my hair as long as I wanted (as demonstrated in this selfie). (Smiths Grove, Kentucky, just before the “prize” haircut, 2003. No photos exist of the “after.”)

Gold Medal Hair
by Stephanie Han

In 1976, beauty eludes.
Gold wire-rim glasses fastened with masking tape snipped and twisted by my father.
A toothy fence before the magic wand of wires.
Hair in need of a wash.
Height, a desperate illusion.

I flip pages of Mom’s Ladies Home Journal:
“Can this marriage be saved?”
How to deal with a diabetic, depressed,
overweight, underweight, alcoholic, unfaithful,
unemployed, drug-using husband.

How-to-handle a problem child, a child with cancer,
a child prodigy, a child with a birth defect,
a child with ESP powers, a bedwetting child.
Nothing about me: the average child.

Coupon-cutting, tall/short, wide-hipped/slim-hipped fashion tips, heroic pets, holiday diets.
A summer tale: centerfold romance rekindled/forbidden/almost-lost love.
A cabin on a lake that stills the sky.
I’ve never been to a cabin: I am 10 years old.

Hairstyles: The Dorothy Hamill Wedge!
Rich chestnut hair that fans as Dorothy
spins and twirls, a blur on black-and-white TV.

A hairstylist from church: My first trip
to a beauty parlor. I’m her first wedge.
Hair falls to the floor. Locks gone.
Free to be America’s sweetheart.
The will to beauty. I am ready for glory.

The next day at school I swing my head,
an American sweetheart with a Dorothy Hamill wedge.
The teacher compliments me.
The boys ignore me.
My second best friend says, you look like a boy.
My best friend says, don’t worry, hair grows.
My third best friend says, short hair is tomboyish and really good for sports, didn’t you sign up for softball team?

Gold medals are hard to win.

PHOTO: Nineteen-year-old Dorothy Hamill sporting her famous wedge haircut at the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, where she won a gold medal for ice skating.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem inspired another one about my first perm. I tend to get new hairstyles during extreme times: personal turbulence or boredom.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephanie Han is a fourth generation Korean American writer and the sole finalist for the 2015 AWP Grace Paley Fiction Prize. Her poetry, fiction, and literary criticism have been widely anthologized and she has published in journals including the Louisville Review, Kyoto Journal, Nimrod International Literary Journal, and others. Her short fiction collection is forthcoming in 2016. She resides in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Mary Primiano-No 45
by Mary Leonard

Mom brushed my just washed hair
to fall in waves, lifting it
to pull back in tight barrettes.

Older, I bobby pinned curls —
rocking to sleep, praying they’d
hold tight through the night.
When I woke, my hair flipped up —
Annette the Mouseketeer

At 14 I wrapped my hair on metal rollers,
slept on my back, didn’t move.
When I woke, I teased my hair,
lined the inside of my eyes navy blue,
Mom frowned, I scowled.

At 18 Mom drove me to her stylist
who knew what to do with curls.
Otto cut swirls around my face.
I hated, hated, hated it
Mom said, You’re such a darling.

In the Midwest my hair grew long —
no frizz, straight, parted in the middle,
I wore John Lennon glasses,
Sergeant Pepper Lonely Hearts Club pants

At 3 E. Harrison, he wound my hair
around his fingers and kissed
and kissed and thank God the
iPhone 6 did not exist.

PHOTO: 1950s Corona, New York: Before the Barrettes.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The idea of selfies as photos started my process. I started writing a history of my hair over the years. These poems began as haikus and tankas and then I loosened up the form and selected the ones I wanted to save.

mary leonard

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary Leonard has published chapbooks at 2River, Pudding House, Antrim House Press and RedOchreLit. Her poetry has appeared in The Naugatuck Review, Hubbub, Cloudbank, The Chronogram, Blotterature and most recently in Red River, Ilya’s Honey and The Rat’s Ass. She lives in an old school house overlooking the Rondout Creek in Kingston, New York. Away from her own personal blackboard, she teaches writing workshops for all ages through Bard College.

anthony o
by Anthony Oropeza

I’ve always figured,
there’s a damn
good reason;
why my grandmother
calls me
“bird brain.”

Hair has always
been one of the most
dreadful features of myself.
It’s obstinate,
and at my young age,
is already starting to fall out.

Everything revolving around my hair,
would always come full circle.

With me,
as a child,
plying a comb onto
my hair,
and then listening to a relative
holler that I hadn’t touched it
worth a damn,
was inevitable.

And it was at those times,
where I thought,
my hair does truly look like the
back of your ordinary bird.

But my hair still is my defining dearth,
my setback, after all these years,
as I still attempt to comb to a pristine state,
and listen to my grandmother
tell me I lied about it
and say,
“You’ve always been a liar,
ever since you could talk.”

PHOTO: Anthony Oropeza at three years old in August 2002. The photo was taken in Riverside County, California, with two already existent cowlicks on the back of his head.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was ecstatic to hear of the opportunity for me to deliver all-reaching memories of my overburdening hair. From the cold water that would perpetually fall across my face from countless tries at combing, to the copious amounts of days I’d find myself retaining heedlessness for my own hair, this poem is bona fide at its marrow.


Anthony Oropeza
is an aspiring freelance writer, poet, and local author. His works of poetry have been featured both in print and online on websites such as Cadence Collective. In a local high school poetry contest, Anthony’s acclaimed poem, titled “See for Me, ” was one of three nominees as finalists for a scholarship award. A film buff, Anthony will be pursuing a career in screenwriting as he attends college in the fall of 2017. His upcoming book of poems 1999 is expected to be released in 2016.