A friend sent us this remarkable hair-do —the penultimate beehive— knowing that we consider hair to be a uniquely expressive material. (It came from The Alternative Hair Show held in Moscow in 2011).

Its strange poetry made us curious about poems about hair. We found some powerful ones to pair with our favorite hair styles. They remind us of the meaning and possibilities, both creative and metaphysical, of the mysterious fiber that rides atop our heads.


Stefan Ruiz
Not Vital’s astonishing toupee via Stefan Ruiz


Perhaps the most astonishing, nuanced and deeply moving poem is Emily Dickinson’s Crisis is a Hair. 
(Read out loud, then wait a moment):

Crisis is a Hair
Toward which the forces creep
Past which forces retrograde
If it come in sleep

To suspend the Breath
Is the most we can
Ignorant is it Life or Death
Nicely balancing.

Let an instant push
Or an Atom press
Or a Circle hesitate
In Circumference

It—may jolt the Hand
That adjusts the Hair
That secures Eternity
From presenting—Here—



Patti LaBelle’s Nightbird Platter-Do


Poet Dónall Dempsey helped us understand The Ying & Yang Of Her Hair:

One day I tell her
I love her hair


Another day I tell her
I like her hair


“Which is it? ”
She frowns

down! ”

I say

or neither! ”

“I love your hair
in that it can
come down

splash all over me.”

“And I love your hair down
in that it can be
put up
in a cathedral of curls! ”

“I love the one
becoming the other

…the process of
becoming! ”

You leave the room
only to return

with one side up
& one side down.

I laugh.

“Not quite what
I had intended.

You throw yourself
into my lap

let your hair
all over me

& I
drown… drown


That ying and yang is apparent in the wildly innovative sculpture/do’s of Nigerian women photographed by J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere

JD Okhai Ojeikere
JD Okhai Ojeikere

…and others


Man Ray’s Star Haircut…

hairdo with balloons myeongbeom kim
Myeongbeom Kim


Hair is heaven’s water flowing eerily over us
Often a woman drifts off down her long hair and is lost

                                                                        —Bill Knott

With thanks to Chris Eldredge for shooting a life-affirming ‘do’ (among other wonders), into our Inbox.

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One thought on “‘Crisis is a Hair’ (Hair Poetry, Visual and Otherwise)

  1. If that’s the penultimate beehive, imagine what the ultimate beehive must look like!

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