Two Poems

Hats, Heads and Hair

by Mary Paulson

My people may have odd-shaped heads. 
They may have hats or wigs, 
hair or not; they may be consumed 
by a desire for long 

blonde locks, maybe a shag.
They may insist on perfection,

undertake exhaustive searches for a barber 
who will do as he’s bid, 
clean the neck, a little 
off the top, long on the sides. 

One woman takes a hair pilgrimage 
every few months— 
NY to Montreal— eight hours drive 
for just the right 

bangs. Whatever else is said about them, 
my people are committed. 

One person may wear platform sandals, 
another abhor
plastic tableware, yet another 
may have trouble tying their shoes. 

There may be someone whose favorite song is something 
truly atrocious: Air Supply’s “All Out of Love” for example. 

There are those who switch subway cars,
avoid people they know. There may also
be sociopaths, charmers too, 
slippery as goldfish, butter-tongued.

Too smart as my mother says, 
for their own good. They may attract stalkers. 
Some may be grossly 
even-tempered – inscrutable, infuriating. 

For myself, I desire 
very long hair. Hair I can 
sit on or wrap around my wrist 
like a leash. 

Thick, dark waves, undulating, running water 
hair that takes days to dry.

I know people who like hats, hair AND 
expensive watches, shoes, two-hundred
dollar etched glass jars of milk white face cream 

blended with eucalyptus and cucumber. 
Some go broke liking such things. 

Most of my people have overworked, 
overwrought brains 
in heads that weigh heavy on their slender human frames.

They resemble sunflowers, slim necks bent forward 
like they are busy talking 
to their feet.

At the end of a long day, they might 
wish to remove that head, as they would a hat. 
Lift it off, lay it down on the hall table 
next to the money clip and keys.


In gobs, red
meaty strips like 
lizard skin, red 
veined rivulets rampant
in my head. Red 
taser shock casting me 
back, back—
trigger red trauma 
punching holes in my chest.
Red for detest, disabuse,
disregard. Red 
for devalued, disrespect. 
Red that drains, red 
that stains, pomegranate 
remnants of my lunacy—
red desert Sphinx 
spiral, scarlet 
vertigo over saturated,
overwhelmed, too much 
much technicolor 
color. Red 
strobe light, red 
wide moon, sharpened
ruby shivs 
breach my skin before the roof 
comes crashing in. Red 
dragon dark, deep, 
blood lake. Cartoon 
red, laugh 
in your face, I’ll 
spit in your face, take 
a red hard whip slap 
in my face. Red imprint wound, 
sick cell, ripe tomato, lip 
bite. Red pain, 
red rain, crimson liquid 
viscous, thick. Drowning in it. Dying in it. 

Mary Paulson’s writing has been featured in multiple publications, most recently in Arkana, Tipton Poetry Journal, The Metaworker, Months to Years and Chronogram. Her chapbook, Paint the Window Open was recently published by Kelsay Books. She can be found on Facebook: mary.paulson.35/ and Instagram: my_tigerlily.