Chris Tse

Artist’s impression of the poet is not drawn to scale

This is the poet behind the mask
                      of a matinée idol
who has no emergency contact
and whose love songs are built
with gender-neutral pronouns.
Many are surprised that the poet is shorter
in real life, yet is still as susceptible
to mythology as the rest of us.
There are points
in the poet’s life that cannot be accurately
rendered by any artist
or the poet himself.
Well, you’re obviously a crap painter,
said the art teacher to the poet.
What stress, if any, to place
on the young poet’s arm
caught in a clothing recycling bin
or his hand thrown
through the glass of his front door?
This is the poet masquerading
          as a rock star
          as a local celebrity
and in this piece:
          as a rugby player
          as a straight man
cutting through the pack
to score the winning try
while the crowd cheers
                     PO-ET! PO-ET!
He doesn’t bother looking out
towards the stands for that special someone
or something. The mud caking his face
gives way to tear-tracks and a flash of guilt:
to play this championship game
he left a poem to walk home alone.
This is the poet as neglectful father.

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