TWO POEMS by Nghiem Tran






The winter stars, months later,

Would ask why I went there. Why I went

Knowing what the cellar held. Abyss.

Stillness. The dark mounting me, a saddle.

To the stars nothing could come close to

Their diminishment, celestial and light-years

Away. At the time, I really didn’t

Know I was making a mistake. I heard

The birdcall of desire and flew.

Red-breasted and alone. Into a nest of
Night woven with moonlight. Threads
Of it tightening and brightening,

His hold on me the spectral presence

Of a makeshift heaven. I sought

A home in ghosts and grieved what
Was never there. Would the real thing
Be any different? All along the fog

On the window was my breath

Seeking a vessel to crack wide open.








They’re right, the monks robed in mud.
Their breaths sour and unrepentant.

You think you’re safe?

Thoughts thrown like a spear

Into mirrors. And the mirage shatters.
Then the return to the prismatic

Prison. Solitude to wade into. A pond,
Cold, dark––But safe. No more thinking
Whether an ally’s words hid a blade beneath
The tongue. Assume the worst,

And set fire to the Trojan horse. Invasion:
The armed men in the belly of a

Carefully worded truce. Once Lucifer

Was loyal, kissing the hand of God. Once

The world came to you like a small child.




NGHIEM TRAN was born in Vietnam and raised in Kansas. He is a Kundiman Fellow. His work can be seen in American Poetry Review, The Adroit Journal, the Offing, Wildness, and elsewhere.



<Prev                                                                                                                                       <Issue>                                                                                                                                   Next>

Please reload