Source: Thoa Ngo on Unsplash

My poem is lactose-intolerant.
It's a baker allergic to flour,
A depressed comedian,
A theatre kid with social anxiety,
Who works in customer service.
My poem is an undefeated irony.
And what if over the years,
It has fallen slightly in love with pain
— because until it doesn’t hurt a little, it doesn’t seem real.

My poem smells of Bhopal's methyl isocyanate.
It stands beside Marsha P. Johnson
And does a swift drag-dance
In the Stonewall Riots.
It's a young Palestinian boy
Wearing his dead father's shirt,
Fixing a tattered teddy bear,
With cotton leaking out, like blood.
Being political was never a choice,
Because my poem has seen children
Playing with bricks, bones, guns
And has grown out of red aluminous soil
— the way poppies and widows grow, out of deadbodies.

My poem doesn't look pretty,
With incurable sores of dictatorship
On its innocent tongue.
It cannot romanticize Van Gogh's paintings
Plagued by psychiatric illness,
But peels oranges and tears leftover bread,
— giving its loved one the bigger piece.

My poem is overweight,
Trying hard to fit within the 2200 characters,
As God and Adam try to hold hands
In the Sistine Chapel;
almost there, but not quite.
It lives in the next Auschwitz,
And creates art on algorithm-based feeds
That feed on simultaneous sponsored ads for
— “sexy XS sized corsets” and “how to be thin in three weeks”.

On days my ideas fade out like Lightroom's vintage film,
On days my words don't fit after the prolonged maternity leave,
On days my metaphors are not a trending hashtag, but a mere cliché,
I close my diary and wonder,
— does my poem still look colourful and picturesque from the outside?

.    .    .