“Hair” by Joseph Jordan-Johnson received second place in the 2015 Glazner Prize for Creative Writing contest, sponsored by SFUAD’s Creative Writing and Literature Department.



I have my father’s hairline.

A widow’s jut in the middle

of my forehead.

I have naps—scalp clumsy.


His waves were smooth,

current-cut, razor-precise.

He never told me how he keeps

the gray from creeping in.


He is 53, a silver fox smile

cutting from ear to ear.

My scalp is too oily, lacquered,



My hair runs bristle wired,

strung, dry and clumped.

I have ignored how he taught

to keep it clean.



They are rigored, the

coroner’s faint clipper buzz

is a lullaby.


There seems to be less hair

on the floor

each time I cut,


less tufts to sweep,

less bodies to hide.






It is hot,

in the way that pain cries.

Holy, in God’s new breath,


it is His steam that will bring

more wrath than Murray’s

wave gel,


the things my father

always used.

The things I learned to hate.



More scratch than bite—

less rough along the grain.

The basin of the tub


runs black and red,

nicks of hair crawling

to the drain.


I hear them howl,

there is wrath in each pull

each razor-tear each


pore less bloody than

the other.

They are him, not His.




Something God has assumed.

Something only death can say.

I am bulbous, not whitehead,

not ready to pop.


There are years I have shaved–

fifty-three bags all in a pile.

The buzz has stopped.

The wrath looks less bloody.

The zipper closes.


Joseph JordanJohnson PhotoJoseph Jordan-Johnson is a senior at Oak Park and River Forest High School in Illinois. “I don’t take myself very seriously,” Jordan-Johnson writes. “I’m not entirely sure if this is good or bad.  I enjoy long walks on the beach and effective discourse on racial equality in America. I believe the written word is the most raw form of communication, stripping narratives of the language that makes them whole, and creating art within the shells you made. Also, I’m irrationally in love with Beyonce.”