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13 May 2023

SILVO by Laurie Bolger

Wasafiri is pleased to publish the pieces shortlisted for the 2022 Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize. The poems, essays, and short stories in this series showcase the best new writing from the best new writers across the globe – in all their diversity and complexity. In this poem, Laurie Bolger draws on the work of Jamaica Kincaid to produce a moving and personal insight disguised within a set of simple instructions.

The 2023 Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize is open for submissions until 30 June 2023. You can read the full terms and conditions and submit here.

don’t fidget        don’t forget to say thank you        don’t forget you’re very lucky  

don’t watch too much telly        don’t trust no one        don’t pick your nose

your eyes will fall out        don’t leave marks on the window  

don’t wear an oversized t-shirt        or leave blood in the bin        don’t moan

don’t nag        don’t be mutton dressed as lamb        don’t show you’re bothered


don’t have a short skirt        don’t cry       don’t forget to clean the edges of the oven

don’t forget the mould (with a toothbrush is best)        don’t forget the spices

gathered like people        don’t forget the bush        don’t sit around all afternoon

don’t eat too much        don’t drink too much        don’t run or you’ll be sick  

don’t let your bum get too big        don’t eat mayonnaise        don’t forget to pay  

for the carpet        don’t neglect top shelfs        don’t forget to bleach

don’t complain about the garden        wax         don’t forget to clean your face

don’t forget to clean your mother’s grave        take a break and pick up the dry cleaning

don’t forget to be delicate        wear gloves       don’t forget to pull the

weeds up        don’t forget to cry three times daily   get up again        everyone’s


 iron the tea towels         top up the machine     don’t forget to clean from the start

don’t forget the deposit        and God forbid they come in and see it like this

alone with the duster       it’s therapy          don’t forget to put stained whites in the sun

wash your bed sheets weekly        turn your mattress     vaseline

patent shoes         pepper your soil to keep foxes away                why would you

pay someone 

       why would you go anywhere but here  

the contents of the cupboard in the middle of the kitchen                let dust fall  

like fluff         drop dead with a duster                 don’t forget your nice top


relieved it’s spotless                rub cream into your arms        clean teeth         ask

for the posh stuff for Christmas        don’t forget to hide it on the top shelf with the chocolate

                                                               reach for it when no one is watching — 

The 2023 Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize is open for submissions until 30 June 2023. Submit here.

Photo by Karen Maes on Unsplash

Laurie Bolger is a London-based writer and the founder of The Creative Writing Breakfast Club. Laurie’s work has been widely anthologised and has featured at Glastonbury, TATE and Sky Arts.
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