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 un 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 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 dead bodies.

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 3 weeks”.

On days my ideas fade out like a 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 colorful and picturesque from the outside?

Journey of a poem

Aishwarya Roy