When They Ask About Us / Stephanie Chan

Two hands with painted nails intertwined in front of tropical leaves.

CONTENT WARNING: references to homophobia.


The snakes aren't as bad as everyone says. You didn’t expect this:
I can tell from your expression. They’re nut-brown, the thickness of a pen.

I’ve taught them to sleep under my snapback when I go out.
Your shoulders say you’re trying hard to act casual, but don’t worry:
I haven’t been with that many girls myself.
It's still all over Reddit, isn’t it, all of Poseidon’s hidden webcams,
a livestream that caught everything from the fangs to the screaming.

I heard he sold it to some website, sold the rights to 20th Century Fox.
The difference between crime and scandal: who leaks the story first.
If I ask, say you never saw it, say you aren’t on social media much.
Put your hands on mine, keep your voice low when you ask what remains.
Bite your lip. Awkward pause. “But it’s all in the past now, right?”

Dip a finger into your cappuccino foam, lick
the chocolate powder off. Pull me in for a kiss
at a traffic light and I almost believe it myself.
A yell. My name: twisted sour in some guy’s mouth. Across the road.
A backwards glance, a wink: we can feel as the wind in his throat freezes.
Take my hand as we keep walking, as people around him start to shout.

If you keep a straight face, I promise not to laugh too loud.
And you thought you were the one offering me protection?
When they ask about us, don’t tell them how I put your hand on my belly
you could feel the kicking. How you rolled your eyes smiling as I spoke of hooves,
of wings as we held hands on my single bed. History will call it half-god.
History will forget the sparks of two bodies coming together
under a half moon as they begin to speak in tongues, in knee,
in teeth in whimpers as you melt between my lips as you drip

I lap you up and when I find myself waking up to your wet mouth
on my shoulder I wonder where I learnt how to turn women into water.


Stephanie Chan is a queer poet who has won national poetry slams in the UK and Singapore. She has represented Singapore at the Indian Ocean Poetry Slam Championships and has represented the UK at the Poetry World Cup. Now based in Singapore, she founded and runs a poetry night called Spoke & Bird, and has been published in various local and international journals and anthologies, including QLRS, Suburban Review, Griffith Review.

See more: @stephdogfoot / stephdogfoot.wordpress.com