The Friday Poem: ‘Selfie with landscape’ by Chris Tse

New verse by Wellington writer Chris Tse.


Selfie with landscape


Let’s unpick what you think you know

about me—what I’ve revealed, what I’ve left

at the door of my favourite wolf, just for him

to make eye contact the next time we pass

in the street. Those stories all had emergency exits,

just like the rules adhered to by poets and liars

that we’ve never thought to record

for consistency’s sake. Sometimes

I look at my face in a mirror and

all I see is a bruised blanket of dusk settling

on an increasingly unfamiliar terrain. I’m a man

who lets trouble back into his life

even though I have razed every highway

to and from that particular story. I’m both

a short breath and an age expanding into

minutes and days to be recycled as fact

by other writers in 100 years. Will they give

weight to my failed desires? Tell the phantoms

I am no vessel for their designs—sticky nights

poured into a vigil. Here’s a true story:

I cut my wolf out of my night scenes

with a dull knife. He did not protest, and

therein lies the pathos. Here’s a status update:

I cut my nails and now I can’t scratch at the dust

caking over my eyes. I’ll take a picture and

show the world what I’m too scared to keep private.

I just want them to like what I’m not.

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