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. 

Listen to Chris Tse read ‘Artist’s impression of the poet is not drawn to scale


Chris Tse lives and works in Wellington. His poetry has recently appeared in LandfallJAAMSnorkelPoetry NZ and Cha. His first full-length collection, How to be Dead in a Year of Snakes, will be published by Auckland University Press in 2014.