Hair Peice

How about that… two blog post in one week.  That’s what you get if you’re paying attention 🙂  

Poetry, is often defined as “the art of paying attention” – Mark Hennessy.

I think of myself as a poet above all other art forms.  As writers, we pay attention to the world around us, streamline it into a concept comprehendible, we pay attention to our audience while delivering and the hardest job of all falls on the audience, who must pay attention to our words and perspective in order to enjoy the work in its entirety.  It’s really a beautiful process, the act of writing.  Sometimes I wake up and think “I should write a BOOK!” But then I remember this blog….and think “what Ferlinghetti or Bukowski wouldn’t GIVE to have such immediate access to the ‘masses'”…. and I carry on with dignity.  Instant gratification. Read it and weep, or carry on as if nothing happened.  Either way, my job here is on it’s way (and never done).  

Story: So last night, I decided to proceed with my 6th month ritual of dying my hair with henna.  It’s a beautiful indian powder that dies skin (and hair) a reddish brown.  It also makes the hair thicker, stronger and more secure, so I don’t worry too much about breakage and damage.  It’s something sacred I feel that connects me to ancestors of the past, and I look forward to the lengthy process.



First I mix the henna with water, lemon juice and essential oils the night before.  I let it sit about 24 hours in the fridge before applying to my hair.  Usually, the application is very tricky because this stuff is highly prone to dying whatever it is touching.  So you either work fast with your hands, or you glove up and hope for the best.  


After messing with the gloves for a few minutes during the initial application, I was not being as successful as I had hoped.  The gloves are slick and I have little control… when it dawned on me “our ancestors didn’t have plastic gloves for protection, hell no”.  So I lost the gloves and dove in with my fingers, spreading the thick dark green paste all over my head as quickly and delicately as possible.  It only took about 10 minutes once de-gloved, and it was a much easier process.  

Washing my hands after applying, I noticed they were already stained a bit orange!  “Uh oh…. this isn’t going to look well at Hebrew school on Wednesday”, I thought.  (I was tempted to draw a third eye with the henna, but the fact that I teach Hebrew to middle schools on Wednesday kept me from having to explain myself).  


Now, looking down at my orange hands brought me back to a time in my 3rd grade classroom, sitting next to a young Indian woman named Sasha Kaun.  She wore the full Indian head covers and burkas, and she always smelled a bit odd (for 3rd grade).  One day, I remember she came to school with bright orange hands!  It looked as if she’d taken a highlighter to her hands and colored them all in!  It was somewhat distracting and when the teacher noticed, she yelled at her, insisting she go scrub it off immediately.  

I remember Sasha crying, and trying to mumble in her broken english that it was a religious thing, and that she had been playing with dye.   Henna.  I couldn’t fathom at the time what on earth she was talking about, but I understood for the first time that some people come from VERY different places, and that looking at each other’s lives from a different perspective can be something to treasure, not something to chastise.  What if the teacher had taken that opportunity to explain to the class what the art of henna was, and how it might be used by different cultures.  The opportunity was missed, but not lost for those of us paying attention.  Years later, I understand, and I wish I could find my school aged friend and tell her how much respect I have for her.  For not being afraid to wear her culture on her skin.

I haven’t thought about that day in elementary school for many years, but looking at my own orange hands, I felt somehow so connected to a place so far away from me.  And we humans are so quick to judge…  we don’t understand, so we think others are WRONG, instead of asking questions of compassion and unconditional love. 


The next time a poet is brave enough to lay their heart up on a stage, whether or not the delivery is on par, or the content is familiar, I ask you to try and look at it is an opportunity.  A three-minute opportunity to go into a place you may NEVER fully know, and to appreciate concepts you may never again have the chance to comprehend.  Our consciousness is expanding as quickly as our internet speeds, so enjoy as much of it as possible. 

If you ever want to dye your hair au natural with henna…. You can buy some at It’s a Beautiful Day 39th and Broadway 🙂  Recipes are available online.  It’s a nice change of pace! 

**WARNING – never dye your hair with henna if you have other color or bleach on it… the two do NOT mix.  Your hair MUST be natural for it to work***

I’ll leave you with a bit of spoken word…. my Hair Piece:


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