Growing up in small towns
hairdressers offer crew cuts,
curlers, wigs in severe bobs.
In cities my fuzz is flat ironed,
acid straight, topiary trimmed.

In cosy bars, strangers clink
pints on our table. Sweep
sweaty palms across tips
of my frizzy top-knot.
If every hair molester paid

for fondles, I’d be on easy
street. Their fingers skim
my follicle ends on buses,
at gigs, in queues for the loo
in blatant barnet abuse.

Mum once cut gum nests
out my afro after Saturday flicks
I still withdraw pencil javelins
thrown into our chequerboard
family of chess pieces.


Helen Sheppard writes about themes of birth and those whose voices are often unheard. Loves the alchemy of community poetry. Published in; These are The Hands NHS Anthology, Under The Radar. Hippocrates Prize. Debut collection Fontanelle due out 2021.