Poetry 2017 Shortlist, Manisha Mahalingam


Manisha Mahalingam

they said, don’t float your dreams
nor fly them on paper planes
         (is it better to hold them close
         and never let them soar?)
they said, the world’s too harsh
you’re too vulnerable
made of paper skin, easily ripped
better hide, they said, from too much rebellion
        (if not ripped how else will I gain scars?)
entropy is near, better prepare
stock up and keep safe, they said
caution is better than cure
        (the perishable must perish, mustn’t it?
         Why then let it rot?)
don’t go eating forbidden apples, they said
safer to just take the road always taken
who knows, they said, of the dangers ahead?
        (can one grow in stagnant water?)
do not argue, they said, it doesn’t become you
in civilization one must listen
walk hand in hand, one should not stand out much
(then why do my fingertips say otherwise?)
are you listening? they screamed
listen to us, we are the voice of reason, of advice
stray away at your own risk, they said.
          (alright, I shall)

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