Hair on Television ~ A Poem, by Wesley McNair

This morning’s headlines made me think of this wonderful poem by Maine’s Poet Laureate (and my brother) Wesley McNair. This is one of the many collected in his fine book from 1989, THE TOWN OF NO.




On the soap opera the doctor

explains to the young woman with cancer

that each day is beautiful.


Hair lifts from their heads

like clouds, like something to eat.


It is the hair of the married couple

getting in touch with their real feelings for the first

time on the talk show,


the hair of young people on the beach

drinking Cokes and falling in love.


And the man who took the laxative and waters his garden

next day with the hose wears the hair


so dark and wavy even his grandchildren are amazed,

and the woman who never dreamed tampons

could be so convenient wears it.


For the hair is changing people’s lives.

It is growing like wheat above the faces


of game show contestants opening the doors

of new convertibles, of prominent businessmen opening

their hearts to Christ, and it is growing


straight back from the foreheads of vitamin experts,

detergent and dog food experts

helping ordinary housewives discover


how to be healthier, get clothes cleaner

and serve dogs meals in the hair.


And over and over on television the housewives,

and the news teams bringing all the news faster

and faster, and the new breed of cops winning the fight


against crime are smiling, pleased to be at their best,

proud to be among the literally millions of Americans


everywhere who have tried the hair, compared the hair

and will never go back to life before the active,

the caring, the successful, the incredible hair.


-Wesley McNair, The Town of No (David R. Godine, Publisher, Inc., 1989)