Pingbrong Pain

An image of two ping-ping paddles, one primarily red and one primarily black. Two ping-pong balls sit next to them.

he fancied how a tutu felt

on top of his jeans

how the gauze coarseness and

ragged coarseness brushed together

for a new kind of coarseness

but he had to cover it with cargo shorts

and then conceal that with

a maxi dress flowing in the wind

for it to feel right

not that anything ever feels quite right

pants on top of skirts

and skirts on top of pants

until no more could fit

and it all fell down

revealing nakedness underneath

that yearned to be a gender

it’s hard to be numerous stacked layers

we all get so much more

than we can carry

layers of soft cotton and layers of

itchy, stuffy cardigans

layers that look like fabric

but are just handprints

on some days, he was human

but felt like a pingpong table

that yearned to be a human yet

perhaps also wanted to be pingpong

I know that makes no sense

but most human things don’t

we make a click-click sound

as the ball meets the table

our eyes track it efficiently

tilting sideways but less than with tennis

each hemisphere controls a different side

it’s not like he had a dude hemisphere

and a gal hemisphere

but he had a pingpong brain and a human brain

and a what the fuck is this even brain

and a little area that really liked to feel

the tutu and whisper: this is who I am

while switching on the jeans brain

who said: this is also me, deal with it

but instead of the deal-with-it brain

it kicked in the Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

I’ve never seen the pingbrong pain

but I know it looks green and flat and lonely

no one has a brain area for

wanting to be human

yet some people do

so many different sectors

to ensure that everything fits in

that the paddle always hits something

and sends it flying away from you

click-click, ping-pong

tu-tu, pain-brain


An image of Maija Haavisto, a person with glasses and long red hair smiling into the camera.

Maija Haavisto has had two poetry collections published in Finland: Raskas vesi (Aviador 2018) and Hopeatee (Oppian 2020). In English her poetry has appeared in e.g. Cosmospen, Topical Poetry, Discretionary Love, Littoral, Eye to the Telescope, Shoreline of Infinity and Kaleidoscope.