“Hair” and other poems by Kasey Shelley

My Name Is








Prick tease
Damp yoke



Hard Work

When the boy texts you to cancel your date, saying you’re hard work, say “OK”. Say “Thank you”. This will confuse him, obviously. He will be expected to respond with “How?!” “Why?!”, starting an argument, thus proving, you are hard work.

When he writes back “what for?” you do not respond. When he texts you the next day saying “ah hun, babe” you still do not respond. He has already given up on something that did not have the chance to begin.

Besides, you like men. Men who know what they want and go for it. Men who do not masquerade their own insecurities in yours.

So you’re hard work because your walls are higher now than they were at what, sixteen? Well, he should now be taller than he was at sixteen. When you threw over a rope and he still refuses to climb. He is not worth it, not worth your time.

You are not hard work. You are hardworking. You survive every day in this world. Through work, home, love, loss. Through your own mind.

“You are hard work” Four words that will spur you on and give you more energy than Honey Boo Boo’s go-go juice. So write the poem. Sing the song. Get the fucking promotion. Work hard and become a better you. For you.

One day someone will come to the wall. And before you even offer to throw the rope they will be scaling. Scaling brick by brick to get to know you better. Because you are worth that.

So when the boy says you are hard work, say “Thank you. Thank you very much.”


All over the world,
Women chase the impossible
Burning their skin with UV bulbs or bleach
Trying to become the “right” shade

Ignorant to the damage
Or just screwed up priorities
It is not their fault,
They were taught this

They watch their bodies, its size
Step on scales and count calories
As six-year-old girls ask
“Mammy, am I fat?”

The perfect brows, lips, eyes, cheekbones
A flatter stomach but keep the boobs
Straighter nose, whiter teeth, hair only on your head
Don’t forget that thigh gap

Seasons and generations dictate
Insecurities and self-hatred

No matter the flaw there is a solution and price tag
They pay with money, tears and pain
Do not blame them
They were shown this

A guy tells her he likes natural girls
Like Kim Kardashian, Kim Kardashian
How will she ever feel beautiful
When even natural is distorted

Supermodels photoshopped beyond recognition
Striving to be beautiful
When even the sexiest women
In this world are not

Women comparing each other
With every percentage of their bodies
“Who wore it best?”
Dangerously competing with their own self

We tell the world’s daughters to be strong and confident
But we don’t allow their mothers to be

Different cultures of the world decipher
What is beautiful
But the universal response screams
“You are not”


The most common thing said about my hair
Is how brave I am
Well, it’s usually more like “Oh God I wouldn’t have the nerve to do that”
Don’t get me wrong I get lots of compliments
People stop me in bars or at gigs to tell me how cool it is
Because it is

But the general reception from women is how I was brave
for cutting off us girls only superpower
Psst – newsflash- I’m not fucking Samson
My powers are in my kindness to others, my strange sense of humour
and apparently, my ability to put words together and people call it poetry
Maybe, I can but that super duper special wax and sculpt my hair into a spear
and charge towards my enemy
Until then, it is just hair

In the two years that I have had my hair like this I have been asked twice if I am a boy
Once, was by a child whose mother looked mortified while I laughed
In fairness i had just done a 5K, hair scraped back in a man bun, sweat running down my face
The second was on a night out by a man
This was after he had already asked for my number
So the way i see it, he found me attractive either way
1-0 to Kasey

But I’m just so confused by this word brave
Do you know what’s brave?
Jumping off a cliff into the sea, swimming across to the next one and doing it again
Telling your crush you like them even though there is a 93% chance they’re gonna reject you
Reading a poem about your father hitting your mother, in front of your father and mother
Battling a terrifying disease of the body or the mind

Those are brave
This was just a decision based on how badass Ruby Rose looked in Orange Is The New Black

The Girl Won’t Delete Your Texts


The Girl Won’t Delete Your Texts

We kept the texts they sent us.
Declaring their love.

Showing off to our friends. Giggling.
Home alone we would read them back. Smiling.

The women before us kept the letters.
Keeping the physical proof for when the spoken words became nothing more than a memory.

Using them to torture ourselves.
To bring ourselves hope.

The power of your words.
The brutality of your indifference.

Hair and other poems are © Kasey Shelley

Kasey Shelley is writer and poet from Dublin. She has been writing poetry since September 2016 and performing regularly in the Irish spoken word scene since January 2017. She has been published in magazines such as Flare, Harness and in the anthology Selfies & Portraits. She is currently working on her debut poetry book.