This Body’s Voice

TANYA SHIRLEY

Why are you here

I used to suck the blood from men’s necks
empty myself to make room for them

But that is in the past 

They did not die
I am a room full of bloody men

Why do you say this

I should have died
once (this is funny) while I was riding a man I pulled his gun
from under his pillow, massaged my clit with it
he came like a banshee bitch
then I put the gun to his head

He must have been scared shitless

He still calls
they all still call
men like to be sucked clean
to be emptied
men like a thirsty bitch

Who taught you to love like this

I never said I loved them
maybe I am more my father’s child
I put a gun to his face once
scared him shitless

Are you here because you are scared

Yes because I’m still alive
the gun shoved far up in blood-gouged empty me
is going to go off and I will die

We are all going to die 

I do not want to enter the earth as steel
and bullets
I want to give a man the fleshy marrow
of my heart
die like something soft
fix me

What will you do with your thirst

See
that is the problem
I believe men love to kill women
I suck their blood as sport
as victor as triumph as joy

Every man is not your father
every man is not out to destroy

Every man is not my father
every man is not my
every man is not

Trust that your body is built to break bullets
leave old lives behind
when you look at a man
do not bare your teeth
even when you smile


Tanya Shirley has published two poetry collections: She Who Sleeps With Bones (Peepal Tree Press, 2009) and The Merchant of Feathers (Peepal Tree Press, 2014). She is a featured poet on http://www.poetryarchive.org. She has read her poems and conducted writing workshops in Venezuela, Canada, the U.S.A., England, Scotland and the Caribbean. Shirley was awarded an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland, USA. She teaches in the Department of Literatures in English at The University of the West Indies, Jamaica. She has been writer-in- residence twice at Sierra Nevada College, Lake Tahoe and is a proud Cave Canem Fellow. Her second poetry collection, The Merchant of Feathers, was longlisted for the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature and shortlisted for the Guyana Prize for Literature, Caribbean Award. In 2017 she was awarded a Silver Musgrave Medal from The Council of the Institute of Jamaica for her outstanding contribution in the field of Literature.

 

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