Slam: My body is a Canvas by Saisha Hayes

Judy Chicago, The Dinner Party, 1974–79. Ceramic, porcelain, textile. Brooklyn Museum

My body is a canvas

My body is a carcass

An open invitation

An all you can eat buffet

Where guests walk past

And gorge themselves

Plate after plate

My body is control

Calories and waistlines

Numbers and futures statistics

On the PowerPoint

While they sit my board of directors

On how best I can be desired

My body is a sin

It’s the white lies

I feed them

So that they

Can feel full

I have a “boyfriend”

I was with my “brother”

I didn’t drink

Do you now believe

I didn’t deserve it?

My body is the problem

My body is politics

It is too small

Too big

Too large

But somehow-

Feeling like I’m never quite


My body is trade

Neo liberal agendas

Without someone to moderate

Body is third party actors

Programming consciousness

Into your brain

It dictates everything

Mind the synapses

Firing into the constellations

The mouth which opens

To argue, to cum, to speak

To protest, to scream

Body is

Body is

Elbows and hands

And fingertips that gently graze

Above the knee

Where desire meets disgust

My body is the “problem”

My body is your canvas

It needs third party evidence


To tell you about the crimes done

Against me

My body is dead

It’s lost compassion

It has somehow slit the gullet

My throat

And I will no longer make myself

Palatable for men

Because my body is my canvas

so surely

I get to choose what colours I paint?

Saisha Hayes is a twenty-three-year-old poet and musician from Bihar and Britain. Hayes got into music through her love of writing poetry, she would start turning her poems into songs. At the age of eighteen she published a book of poems called “Muddy sneakers” which has been published by Palimpsest publishing house in Delhi. Her music has been featured on BBC Leeds, Rolling stones India and the Times of India. She has just finished her bachelor’s in liberal arts majoring in politics from Kings College London. Her background in politics is often evident in her poems as they tend to cover political- social issues. Since graduating she has been working with the NGO Shout at Cancer where she designs music workshops for laryngectomy patients. She is currently working on her first novel.