The Second Question, by Mike Took

I’m a non-British resident, transgender working pensioner
I’m a means-tested, mixed race, unpaid contracted support-worker
I’m a non-white, gender fluid, single parent lesbian
I’m a child of Muslim parents, asexual, agnostic, churchgoer

Review my application
Process my claim
Specify my future
But struggle with my name
Confirm my entitlement
Deal with my request
Govern my choices
Decide what happens next

I’m an angry retired socialist considering private medicine
I’m a genius adolescent who’s been taught to hate society
I’m a childless unemployed father with some kids who call me Dad
I’m a dyslexic mature student filling forms in for a loan

Rejected.  Deferred.
Your final word
Approved.  Denied.
You decide
Adopted?  Non-practising?  Queer?  Two mothers?
Just put Other
Tick the box
Judged by a social paradox

Oh how I want to fit in
To be happy and successful just doing my thing
You ask, I answer
But what can I do
If the second question always means I have to justify myself
To you?


Mike Took is a writer and performer based in Warwickshire, UK.  This poem The Second Question features in his debut solo show Overpriced Zeitgeist that completed a full run at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2018 and is playing at the Brighton Fringe in 2019.  Mike hosts several regular poetry events including open mic nights and workshops and is the News & Features Editor at the poetry website WriteOutLoud.  Overpriced Zeitgeist: The Book of the Show is available to buy on Amazon.

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