Cut It Like Johnette Napolitano



I'm passionate about Alternative Music. Wrote album reviews for Beat Magazine & hosted a Sunday Night Graveyard Shift show with 3RRR in Melbourne. This poem is a story about the night I met an inspiration of mine Rock Poet Johnette Napolitano with Concrete Blonde, being true to yourself & my hair!

Johnette Napolitano

At twenty one
my too thick Spanish hair
swept way down past my waist
Often I'd get it coloured
midnight blue black

Most hairdressers
became child like playful
curling rope like strands
around their dye stained fingers
Holding them like rare dark silk
flat against their palms
finishing in serious tones,
"Don't ever cut your hair."

Strangers sitting behind me
silently in buses, trams and trains
would gently tug at my hair
testing, to feel, if it was real.

On Melbourne city streets
day or night
whether alone or with friends
men were bolder
Barely a step behind me
their entitled fingers
violently pull my hair hard
expecting a wig to fall
like a black blanket
onto the concrete pavement

Sharp pain whips me around
Disbelief, shock
sometimes embarrassment
sweep across their male faces
one after the other
like an unwanted slide show
"Yes my hair is real.
Don't touch me again."

I hid behind my too long hair for years
Used it as an unpractical Shield
yet it still drew undesired male attention
my way, anyway.

To be trusted
someone had to be able
ready, to look past my hair
and a few extra kilos
to see me

I was too concerned with being tough
to trust allowing anyone in
still hiding who I was, even from myself
My hair a symptom

Until at twenty two
one Corner Hotel Friday night
i saw Concrete Blonde play live
during their Australian FREE tour

Imagine witnessing musical magic
it was there
amongst the smell of new sweat
on-tap chilled beer
and Dunhill cigarettes

Naked, tangible stripped bare magic
created by two men
and one extraordinary woman
Using a deep throbbing drum
two guitars
all three were at home up on stage
together letting loose a tsunami of sound
below, above and all around us

Johnette Napolitano
The Alternative Rock Poet Queen
standing proud on stage in all black
Strong and gorgeous she turned her back
bowing low, revealing her moon pale neck
A blood rose tattoo gleaming light
like a mystical signal
taking, mesmerising
the crowd's breath away

Johnette Napolitano held hundreds
under her welcome spell
commanded us all with her bass guitar
Her husky, desert singing voice
swelled with power
so gutsy clear
it's ALL we wanted to hear
All you could hear

The chatter of the crowd
didn't stand a chance
against Johnette Napolitano's
magical noise

After the gig, invited upstairs
i saw them all together on the floor
Saying goodbye to Have A Nice Day
joking about mothers and lasagna

Johnette sat listening to her band mates banter
holding her knees with her back against the wall
sitting down opposite her, she winked hello
We both sat back enjoying the conversation
between joker Irish Paul and thoughtful Jimmy

Taking me off guard
Johnette like the older sister
I've never had, leaned over me
softly brushing my hair aside
exposing my private face

She saw me
i saw her
and for moments
we were locked
together in silence

I thought back how alone at night
with my headphones on tight
I've listened hypnotised
over a thousand times
by her unmistakable vocals

Johnette's sound soaring
rising past the two am sky
being carried by Angels
lingering around the clouds
overwhelming the moon
before floating down
to sooth me into dream sleep

Oh Johnette Napolitano
your voice
your words
your rock poetry
turns my soul into a Supernova

That night, this time, the only time
Johnette was opposite me
moving closer
her curious dark chocolate eyes
holding my nervous stare
Her dyed blue black hair
falling like a night shadow
framing her perfect
adult woman's face

There I was ALL hair
in black and velvet jade
wearing my only leather jacket
and Doc Martin boots
Life experience was all over her face
whereas I had begun

I felt like John Cusack's Lloyd
in the movie Say Anything
with his arms outstretched high
His desperate in love fingers
holding up a Boom Box stereo
for Ione Skye's Diane
Say something Cristina
Say anything...

"I love Roses Grow only it ends too soon.
It sounds like it needs an extra stanza"

Johnette slapped her right knee
with eyes bright, she smiled wide
i saw strong, bold white teeth
as i imagined a Joshua Tree sunset
light up, heat up, her amazing face

She laughed
even her laugh was musical
an opposite sound to her
alto deep, throaty voice
Yet so contagious her laughter
silenced everyone

"You're right Cristina. I told you boys
Roses Grow is too short."

To each other
we talked about her music
her songs, her lyrics
her spoken voice a L.A. noise
What a voice
warm like an old souls hug
yet edgy and round
ALL at the same time.

We talked about Leonard Cohen
Natalie Merchant and Nick Cave.
We moved onto Anne Rice
Herman Hesse and Milan Kundera
his Unbearable Lightness Of Being

With unexpected affection
Johnette's right hand
cradled the left side of my face
her gifted fingers touched my cheek bone
as she said,"You remind me of my little sister.
You even look like my little sister."

The lyrics of her song 'Little Sister'
rippled through my mind
Johnette was 'only half a heart away'
just a heart beat away
from me

I wanted to say back to her
One day Johnette I want to write like you
make a world wide difference like you
i want to make people feel what I feel
when i hear your words
Your voice, i know it was hard to find
Your words, pour, dance, bounce
replays over and over on my minds radio

I want to be wild and wise like you
be strong and powerful like you
sexy and knowing like you
Holding people close with words
like only you and Sinead O'Connor
can do

Yes, i even want to look like you
so maybe, yes maybe
one destined day i will grow up
as pure inspirations channel
and be as good of a Poet as you
Able to cut through the bullshit
to feel, touch, reach, find and
get to the truth like you

So star struck
so crazy young
i didn't say it
Yet I meant it.

That night
i had a little conversation
with Johnette Napolitano
it left me all in grateful pieces
yet it was just time enough

After everyone had left, gone home
happy, i reached into my jacket pocket
feeling Johnette's mailing address
safe inside, paper rough against my fingers
I walked out of the Corner Hotel in Richmond
onto Swan Street...different

The very next Friday afternoon
down on Greville Street
i took my usual seat
looking in the wall wide mirror
at Matt standing behind me

My hairdresser for the last year
Matt had become a friend
he glanced back at me
holding my too long hair
in his gentle skilled hands
Unlike any hair stylist before
as Matt always did, he asked me,
"Do you want a trim Cristina,
or are you ready to cut it all off?"

Laughing, staring directly back
into his blue mirrored eyes
i said, "I'm ready Matt.
Cut it like Johnette Napolitano."

© Copyright 'Cut It Like Johnette Napolitano' 2016 Cristina Munoz. All rights reserved.

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