Briana G. Hammerstrom

Martinique Pink Toe

The scientists will tell you
my hair is not “true hair.”

You assume they are right.
What I use to save myself is
a misnomer. They are,
technically, right. What I use

to survive is a misnomer;
a murder of self for survival.

The work is called "urticating."
Not my usual weaving.
Not my usual body.
Not my usual survival.

My hair is a defense mechanism.
When threatened, a simple kick;

prestige and panache!
Presto: the trick –
hair as needles.

When the hand first extended
itself to me, I took gentle steps.
Prayed to rend my body docile,
soft as “hair” implies, all while
waiting for:

any singular word –

whatever implement they could
end me with. Every follicle
frizzles to bristle; knows
how easily β€œhand”
translates itself
into fist.

Is it naivety or suicide
to ignore the warning signs?
Is it faith or wishful thinking
to brush off fear?
Is it “God” or “Instinct” which
rules the body?

This time, it was you.
This time, it was me.

This time, gentle palms.
This time, peach fuzz.

About the Author

Briana Grace Hammerstrom’s poetic journey has led her to stages across the United States, including the Individual World Poetry Slam, the National Poetry Slam, the Southwest Shootout, Bigfoot Poetry Festival, Moab Pride’s Spit Love, and Grand Junction Pride’s Slamming Bricks, among others. Among her accolades rests the title of Haiku Deathmatch Champion from the 2022 Redwood Poetry Festival, and recently clinching second place at Slamming Bricks 2023.

Serving as a poetry reader for Kitchen Table Quarterly and running the Flagstaff Poetry Slam from 2016 to 2019, Hammerstrom has shared her insights as a guest speaker at colleges and conducted poetry workshops for individuals at all stages in their writing careers. Her work traverses a spectrum from queer joy to unbridled outrage, all via the enchantment of everyday language. Discover her world of words and upcoming performances at