DAY SEVENTY-FOUR – Tanya Shirley

All of Us Nervous

See me in me heels and ting
dem check say we hip and ting
but this thong is too tight,
these boots squeeze my brain;
cousin Bev says small sizes
take up less space in the barrel
she sends once a year.

True dem no know and ting
how down to this long hair
was paid for by the sweat
of one woman’s brow:
austerity is nothing new to her.

Her whole life is a cut back
so we back home can sport
in a we khaki suit and ting.
Still she was hoping; something
about that word ‘conservative’
makes her nervous.

We tell her come home
for a wash off in the sea,
a belly-full of familiar air.
Come make we give her likkle
bass so [she] wine up [her] waist.

She says stop the blasted styling
and singing. This is the year of corns
and calluses, extra small panties.
She is trying to buy a house;
soon love may be the only ting
she sending.

Note: The italicised lines are taken from “Uptown Top Ranking” by Althea and Donna


Tanya Shirley was awarded an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland, USA. She currently teaches in the Department of Literatures in English, UWI, Mona, where she is also a PhD Candidate. She is the author of two poetry collections, She Who Sleeps With Bones (Peepal Tree Press, 2009) and The Merchant of Feathers (Peepal Tree Press, 2014). Tanya Shirley is a Cave Canem Fellow and has read her work in England, Scotland, Newfoundland, The United States and the Caribbean.


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