Out of the Margins

an uncle would come in and ask me to write up a paragraph of the latest chef’s specials / so I felt very fortunate to be able to write in our language when he asked / he’d point out my misspellings / and I’d have to reassure myself that they didn’t make me any less of my parents’ child

Whose American Dream?

My mother, still beautiful despite dark half circles under her eyes, tensed her petite body; she did not narrowly escape communist Vietnam as a boat person to have her only child talk to crazy people for a living.
One morning she wakes up / She wants to eat all the things in the world / Things like cars, trains / clothes, shoes, toilet paper /
The blind man draws circles and traces charms / Bloodline cursed over three generations: / A mother burns her baby with fire and water / To prove the newborn is not his father’s future assassin.
There are two veterans in the family. Father, who wasn’t recognized as one, and my brother, who was born here and served in the U.S. military and is therefore formally recognized as one. The officially recognized veteran receives the benefits of the institution, and he understands that privilege he holds over the unrecognized.

“Dear Ba” ~ poems

Poems by Anh-Hoa Thi Nguyen. Dear Ba, Sometimes I drive past our old house, looking to see if it still houses all the wounds I endured there. The stifling silence, crowding of needs, the hand-me down desires. I can still hear the hurricane of dishes, your anger howling, the denial of longings. […]