Thursday, December 14, 2006

Poem for Poetry Thursday

I was hoping to write something new, but what I'm working on is not ready. So here's an old poem that was published at a once-cool Web zine called Can We Have Our Ball Back. Now, I think they're defunct--every time I go to their site I get porn links and pop-ups.

Happy Poetry Thursday!

Afro Puffs

In kindergarten, I was the only one with afro puffs.
The only other person at school with a hairstyle even resembling a fro
was my dad when he picked me up at the end of the day.
They were stellar long before I knew who Angela Davis was.
My hair was parted down the center into two clusters,
one on each side. Mom used hair grease to oil my scalp
and comb out the naps, with barrettes holding them in place.
Afterwards, she used the afro pick: a short straight metal comb
with that muscular black plastic hand in salute. To me
it was cold steel that looked like prison bars,
but there was always that fist high above the bars grasping.
We watched Sanford and Son and Good Times
while fixing my hair, and I knew Wilona kept hers
in her purse. I’d see them sticking out of the back pockets of blue jeans
belonging to the neighborhood kings and queens.
It would be much later before I attached faces to those fists.


Brian said...

The last line grabs you; up until then all was well in the neighborhood.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting on my post.

How is the North Shore? It's been a long time since I was there.

Regina Clare Jane said...

I loved this- I also have a lot of memories of my childhood associated with my hair... but for yours, the meaning is very clear in the last line.
Thank you.

January said...

Brian, it's warm and sunny today--supposed to be 56 degrees! I'm a Virginia native and I'm still not used to cold winters, but this is nice.

And Red Sox Nation is thrilled about the acquisition of Dice-K.

Regina, thanks for stopping by. It's amazing how many of us have some part of our identity tied to our hair.

jim said...

I'm back, January, really.

Anyway, me being from Idaho, I read the title and think, oh, a breakfast cereal.

Love the poem, too. Jan'et Dubois, wow.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Ah yes, hair, identity and bullying. I like the way the reader is pulled in with all the intricate details of the hair style and the combs and then everything changes.

Poet with a Day Job said...

Thanks for posting this and partaking in PT even if you have "nothing new." It's new to us! And, of course I am pleased to find another Fennelly fan out there!

my backyard said...

Don't know if I could have survived being the only one with a specific hair style. Glad you found strength in it.

Alexandra said...

You certainly are a poet. A moving poem. I feel sad somehow by it and resonating in ways I can't articulate just yet right now-do keep sharing!

Rethabile said...

I'm too old for a fro, now. But we all had one some years back, didn't we?

Nice poem.

Dani said...

I guess my mind works differently because I didn't get a sense of bullying from the poem.

"They were stellar long before I knew who Angela Davis was."


"It would be much later before I attached faces to those fists."

Those two lines made me think of my own experience. My mother is biracial but was raised with the white side of her family, so she didn't really teach us much about black heritage or anything. I remember the afro puffs and the fists on the picks, but it wasn't until high school that I learned who Angela Davis was, connected the fist with the Black Power movement, or understood that hair means so much more than fashion to black women. To me, the poem was about a new awareness of the importance of everyday things.


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