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jake aller  Apr 2019
saigon poems
jake aller Apr 2019
Seeing Ghosts

I walk around the streets
Of old Saigon
Seeing sensing the undead

The ghosts of the war
That haunted life
So many years ago

So many people died
For a war
That never should have been fought
For reasons that are still not clear

A great tragedy unfolded
In a land half away
Around the world

The ghosts smile at me
And then they disappear

Leaving me in the present
Life goes on

Old Ghosts  

Old ghosts wandering the streets of old Saigon
Lost spirits of the dead
Died during the endless wars  
Ghostly apparitions around every corner

Here was Kilroy
and his gang of soldiers
Over there were the Viet Cong
Waiting to **** them

Saigon is filled with memories like that
Terrible times were had here in Old Saigon
Silently the ghosts parade the city streets
As the tourists drink in the bars

Mastering the Saigon Shuffle

When I first visited Saigon
Learning the Saigon Shuffle
Was difficult

And now 24 years later
It all seems to be coming back

There is an art to crossing the street
Dodging the motor cyclists, the taxis, the private cars
The bikes and other pedestrians and the buses

The art consists of letting the big guys go first
Then walk between the motorcycles and cyclists
Trusting that they will get out of your way

And they being masters of the Saigon shuffle
Always find a way

In my two visits I was struck
By how it all flows together

Without a central authority
And with almost no planning
Lights or cops

Somehow it just is
And somehow it works

And it is still a mystery to me
24 years after first
Encountering the Saigon shuffle

Coffee Lady
Every morning
I have gone out for Vietnamese coffee
At a sidewalk café
Down the ally from our AIRBNB

The owner is a pleasant middle age woman
Who for some reason likes us
She smiles at us
Greets us in Vietnamese
She does  not understand English
Or Korean

And I wonder why
Why was there this connection
Between us

It dawned on me
Perhaps in a prior life
She knew an American or two
And I remind her of someone

Or perhaps she is found
Of Korean K drama
And Angela reminds her
Of her favorite K Drama star

Or perhaps it is both
Or another reason entirely

But I moved today
And will miss her

Might go back for a final cup
Of coffee

To say good bye
To my Vietnamese coffee lady

Mostly Harmless Old Lady in the Alley
There is an old Vietnamese lady
In the neighborhood
Obviously senile

But everyone knows her
And watches over her

To make sure
She stays out of traffic
And out of trouble

She talks to everyone
But no one seems to understand
What she is babbling on about
They smile at her
And she smiles back

Reminds me of the phrase
From the hitchiker’s guide to the galaxy
Mostly harmless

And she for some reason
She likes us
And like my Vietnamese Coffee lady

I wonder why
Why was there this connection
Between us

It dawned on me
Perhaps in a prior life
She knew an American or two
And I remind her of someone

Or perhaps she is found
Of Korean K drama
And Angela reminds her
Of her favorite K Drama star

Or perhaps it is both
Or another reason entirely

But in any event
I look forward
To seeing her smiling face
Every time I walk
Down my ally way

Avoiding the War Due to Two Birthdays

I avoided being drafted
Due to a fluke in my birth certificate
In 1974 the last draft was held
And some people were drafted

But no one went to Vietnam
The war was ending by then
I avoided the draft though
To no effort on my own

My number came up on the draft list
My real birthday was in the zone
But then my mother pointed out
That my legal birthday was different

When I was born at 4 am
The night clerk typed up
My birth certificate
With the wrong date

My father pointed that out
She said
Once I typed it
That is it

His birthday will be
What I typed
Get use to it
My father gave up

And so, 18 years later
That saved me
From the last draft
Never made it to Vietnam

Many years latter
I visited Vietnam
Right after we opened relations

Glad I finally got to see
The country
That so many Americans visited
so many decades ago

Buddha In Vietnam

In Saigon I saw the buddha
Buddha images are everywhere
Temples are scattered about
Here and there and everywhere

Buddha lives on
In the hearts and minds
Of the Vietnamese soul

The communists tried
To get rid of Buddhism
And other religious traditions

But they failed
And Buddhism has come back
Still speaks to the Vietnamese people

A different style
A different vibe
Than Korean Buddhism

But still Buddhist thought
Prevails in the tropical lands
Of the South

Mekong Dreams

Traveling along the Mekong
Back in time

Seeing the river
The people
Imagining life on the river
Imagining the war
The past in the Mekong delta

And the present tourist boom
Yet life goes on
With its own laid back rhythm

As we traversed the river
We were transported back
To an earlier time

Following the ancient rhythms
Of the Mekong Delta

Down and Out in Saigon

Southeast Asia, and Mexico
has always attracted
A certain type of westerner
The down and out
On a down word spiral

Relatively cheap to live
Lots of part time gigs
Teaching English
Or other things

*****, drugs, ***
Readily available
And cheap

Places to stay
Dirt cheap
And no one needs
To sleep out doors

Easy to disappear
Into the foreigners backpackers ghettos
And escape
From whatever you are running from

The locals are somewhat tolerant
The police usually look the other way
And there are lots of people
In your shoes

I was surprised to find
That Saigon has become
The latest place
For the down and outer crowd
To gather together

In Bangkok one sees them a lot
In Cambodia as well
In the Philippines
In Nepal

And south of the border
In Mexico as well

In India not so much
In Japan and Korea
Just too **** expensive
And too cold to be outdoors

Back in the day
I used to work
The citizen services gig
And saw lots of the down and outer set

The old song comes to mind
No one remembers you
When you are down and out

And in the States
Being down and out
Means living on the mean streets

As it is very difficult
To live with almost no money

And the various side hustles
Don’t give you much money
Unless you are dealing drugs

And teaching ESL
Is not an option

Food is expensive
Transportation is expensive
***** and drugs expensive
Rent is prohibitive
Commercial *** is expensive

And no one loves you
If you are down and out
No one knows your name
You are just another homeless ***

Invisible to all
As you try to make do

Much better to be down and out
In Southeast Asia
Than on the mean streets
Of the USA

Ghosts of Chu Chi

Crawling down the tunnels
Of Chu Chi
I could almost imagine
The Viet Kong guerillas

Hiding deep under the tunnels
As the land above is turned
Into a temporary dessert

With the vegetation burned off
By ****** and agent orange

The Viet Kong creep out at night
Stealing onto the bases
Stealing weapons, food, supplies
And occasionally killing soldiers

In their sleep
The US soldiers
Stay on base at night

Terrified of the mosquitos
And of the Viet Kong

the ghosts
Surround me
Telling me their stories
And at last I fled

Through the emergency escape tunnel
Declaring victory
Profoundly shaken up
By the ghosts of the Chu Chi tunnels

Saigon 2019

Saigon 2019

Vibrant, vivid, exciting
A city on the move
Becoming a world class city
Yet still with a Saigon swagger

Wandering the streets
Dodging the traffic
Admiring the women
Enjoying the food

Saigon enters my heart
And I know that I will be back
This city is growing on me
Reminds me of Korea back in the 1990’s

One hopes that as it develops
It will not become a carbon copy
Of other big Asian cities
Obliterating its past

In search of a false modern image
I hope it can retain
What makes Saigon Saigon
And not become another Gangnam

Hope it does it with Saigon style
And the people will evolve
The country will emerge
And become what it should be

The Paris of the East
This is my vision
Saigon 2019

Saigon 1995

Saigon 1995

In 1995
I was one of the first tourists
Allowed in to Vietnam
To freely wander about

Tourism was at its infancy
And Saigon was chaotic
Wild and crazy
Traffic was insane

There were few tourism sites
Few hotels
Few guest houses
And not too many restaurants

The food was good
We saw the war memorial
The re-unification palace
And the big market

But we felt we were being monitored
Beggars were everywhere
There were scams everywhere
And it was not that pleasant an experience

But Saigon grew up
Became a much more tourist-friendly place
And these problems we encountered
A thing of the place

Saigon is so much better
So much more developed
That it has captured our soul
And we will be back
poems inspired by my second trip to Saigon in 24 years
Mitchell Duran Nov 2013
It was 98'.
No, it was 99'.
That was the year.
Yeah, that was the year.

I had just landed abroad and knew no one.
Well, I was there with my girlfriend, Page.

I knew her.

We had to get out of the states.
There was nothing for us there.
We were drowning in that nothingness - that lacking future.

Cookie cutters everywhere.

Everything I saw was like an outline of something that had already happened.
I couldn't sleep.
I couldn't ****.
I could barely call my parents to let them know what I was doing.

Nothing really.

Floating downward like a leaf broken from its stem.
I was scared.
I'll admit it.
I was terrified of the next four years.
Twenty-five seemed so far away and so close, all at the same time.

We had a found an apartment to live in while in the U.S.
We were lucky because people we met later on said it was hell trying to find a place after arriving.
I was never too good at that stuff anyway.
I always felt like people were trying to cheat me or something.

It was small.
You would have said you loved it, but secretly hated it.
One could barely stand in the shower.
Want to spread your arms wide?

Forget about it.

There was a balcony though and you could watch the street traffic from above.
People look so small when your high up.
Down the street, there was a large theatre where they filmed movies.
I rarely saw them shooting, but I could tell it was a good place to.
It was beautiful at night when the lampposts would flicker on, orange spilling on the street.
Everything was damp in the Fall when we first arrived.

"What do you want to do today?" I asked her. She was laying face down on the bed.
Whenever she was hungover, she would do that.
All the covers and pillows over her face, blocking out the world and its light.
I did the same thing, so I couldn't really say much.
We were hungover a lot those first couple months.
Then came the jobs and everything changed...mostly.

She moaned something that I couldn't understand.
I was standing by the window, staring at the pigeons and crows perched on the roof across from us.
They had made a little nest under one of the shingles.
Clever little ******'s.

"Look at those things," I said.
The coffee I was drinking was bitter and made from crystals.
It gave me a headache, but it was cheap and we were broke.
I stepped back to get a better look at their nest and knocked an empty beer bottle around.

She moaned again and rose up from bed, kind of like a stretching kitten or a cat.
Her back was arched like a crescent moon and she stunk of ***** and Sprite.
The blankets were twisted and crumpled and she was tangled in them like a fly in a spiders web.
I went into the kitchen and poured out my coffee, thinking of what to do with the day.

"Breakfast?" she asked me from bed.
My back was to her, but I knew she wanted me to make it.
I put the electric stove on and opened the refrigerator.

"No eggs," I said back to her, "I'll be right back."

She moaned and slithered back into bed.
I threw my jacket and slippers on and made my way downstairs.

"Dobry den," I said to the cashier.
He was a tiny vietnamese man with a extremely high pitched voice.
I struggled to stifle a laugh every time I came in.

"Dobry den," he said back, sounding like air escaping from a balloon.

"Dear God," I thought, "How does his voice box do it?"

I went straight to the eggs, pretending to cough.
All around me were packaged sweets and rotten vegetables and fruit.
There were half loaves of brown, stale bread wrapped lazily in thin plastic.
Canned beans, noodle packets, and cardboard infused orange juice lined the shelves.
Where were the ******* eggs?
We needed milk too.
Trying to drink that crystalized coffee without it was torture.
I don't even know how I did it earlier.
"I must be getting used to the taste..." I thought.

I opened the single refrigerator they had in the place.
It was stocked with loosely packaged cheese, milk, beer, and soda.
There they were, those ******* eggs, right next to the yogurt.
I looked at the expiration date of a small carton of chocolate milk and winced.
"Someone could die here if they weren't careful," I whispered to myself.

"Everyding O.K.?" I heard the cashier squeak behind me.
I turned and nodded and showed him the eggs.
He was suspicious I was stealing something.
It was ironic.
I put the eggs on the counter and handed over what the cash register told me.

"There you go," I said and handed him the 58 crown in exact change.

"Děkuji," he peeped.

His voice sounded like a stuffed animal.
I nodded, smiled, and quickly got the hell out of there.

"You know the guy that works at the shop across the street?" I asked the body still in bed.
Well, she was up now, back up against the wall with her laptop on her lap.
"You mean the guy that has the voice of a little girl?"
"Exactly. I was just in there - getting these eggs - and I nearly laughed in his face."
"That's mean," she frowned, staring at her laptop.
Many of our conversations were with some kind of electronic device in between us.
We needed to work on that.
"I didn't laugh at him directly."
She smiled and nodded and moved down the bed a little more.
Only her head was resting on the pillow.
I cracked two eggs and let them sizzle there in the butter and the salt.

"So, what do you want to do today?" I asked Page, "It's not too cold out. We could go on a walk."
"I don't know. Over the bridge and maybe down by the water."
"It's going to be so cold," she shivered.
"I was just out there in slippers and a t-shirt and I was fine."
"That's because you're so big. I'm tiny. I don't get as much blood flow."

I flipped the two eggs and looked down at them.
Golden and burnt slightly around the edges.
******* perfect.
Now, just gotta wait a little on the other side and make sure to not let the yolk harden.
I hated that more than anything in the world.
Well, that and hearing **** poor excuses like it being too cold.
It was nice out.
She'd be fine.

"Come on," I sighed. I did that a lot. "It'll be fun."
She looked up at me from her computer with a dead look in her eye.
"What?" I asked her.
"You're such a...nerd," she said.
"No I'm not."
"You're so weird. Some of the things you say sometimes..."
"Like what?"
"Let's go on a walk."
She exaggerated the word walk.
I laughed and knew I was being a little too excited about a walk.
"Yeah. So? What are you doing? You're just laying there doing nothing."
"It's my day off," she scoffed, jokingly.

We were unemployed.
Everyday was a day off.
This was not something to bring up.
It was touchy subject.
One had to go about it...delicately.

"We need to find jobs," I stated, "And we can probably ask around or look for signs in windows."

"Oh JESUS," she gagged, coughing and diving back under the covers.

"I'm just thinking ahead so we can stay here. There's got to be something out there we can do."

"Like what?" she asked, her voice muffled by blankets.

"I don't know...something," I mumbled, trailing off as I flipped one of the eggs, "Perfect."

After breakfast, Page finally got out of bed and took a shower.
I tried to sneak in there with her, but, like I said before, one could barely fit themselves in there.
We compromised to have *** on the bed, though I did miss doing it in the shower.
As Page got dressed, I watched her slip those thin black stockings on, half reading a magazine.
I had gotten a subscription to The Review because I was trying to become a writer.
I thought, maybe if I read the stuff getting published - even the bad **** - it'll help.
Later, I realized, this was a terrible idea, but I enjoyed the magazine all the same.
Page finished getting dressed.
I jumped into whatever clothes were on the floor and didn't stink.
Then, we were out the door on Anna Letenske street, looking at the tram, downhill.

"I can see my breath," Page said, "It's cold..."

"Alright," I said as both of us ran across the street, "It's a little cold."

"But it's ok because I'm glad were out of the house."

"If we would have festered there any longer, we would have stayed in there all day."

"And missed this beautiful day," she said mocking me, putting both of her arms in the air.

The sky was gray and overcast and a single black crow flew over us, roof to roof.
No one was out, really.
It was Sunday and no one ever really came out on Sundays.
From the few czech friends I had, they explained to me this was the day to get drunk and cook.

"Far different then what people think in the States to do," I remember telling him.
"What do you do, my friend?" he had asked. He always called me my friend.
It was a nice thing to do since we had only known each other a couple weeks.
"Well," I explained to him, "Some people go to church to pray to God."
He laughed when I said this and said, "HA! God? How many people believe in God there?"
I had heard through the news and some Wikipedia research Prague was mostly atheist.
"A good amount, I'm pretty sure."
"That's silly," he scoffed, "Silly is word, right?"
"Yep. A word as any other."
"I like that word. What else do they do on Sunday?"
"A lot of people watch football. Not like soccer but with..."
"I know what you talk about," he said, cutting me off, "With the ball shaped like egg?"
I nodded, "Yes, the one with the egg shaped ball. It's popular in the Fall on Sundays."
"And what is Fall?" he asked.
You can see our relationship was really based on questions and answers.
He was a good guy, though I could never pronounce his name right.
There was a specific z in there somewhere where one had to dig their tongue under their teeth.
Lots of breath and vibration that Americans were never asked or trained to do.
Every czech I met said our language was a high contradiction.
Extremely complex in grammar and spelling, but spoken with such sloth.
I don't know if they used the word sloth.
I just like the word.

As we waited for the tram, I noticed the burnt orange and red blood leaves on the ground.
"Where had they come from?" I wondered. There were no trees on the street.
Must be from the park down the block, the one with the big church and the square.
There were lines of trees there used as leaning posts for the bums and junkies as they waited.
What they were waiting for, I never knew.
They just looked to be waiting for something.
I kicked a leaf into the street from the small island platform for the tram.
It swept up into the air a couple inches, and then instantly, was swept away by a passing car.
I watched as it wavered in the air, settling down the block in the middle of the road.

"Where's this trammm," Page complained.
Whenever it was cold out, her complaining level multiplied by a million.
"Should be coming soon. Check the schedule."
"Too cold," she said, "Need to keep my hands in my pockets."
I shook my head and looked at the schedule. It said it would be there at 11:35.
"11:35," I told her, still looking at the schedule. There was a strange cross over the day of Sunday.
"You mad?"
"No," I said turning to her, "I just want to have a nice day and its hard when you're upset."
"I'm not upset," she said, her teeth chattering behind her lips.
"Complaining I mean. We can go back home if it's really too cold. It's right there."
"No," she looked down, "Let's go out for a bit. I just don't know how long I'll last."
"Ok," I shrugged.
I looked up the street and saw our tram coming; number 11.
"There it is," I said.
"Thank God," Page exhaled, "I feel like I'm about to die."

Even the tram was sparse with people.
An empty handle of cheap liquor rattled in the back somewhere.
I heard it rock back and forth against the legs of a metal seat.
"Someone had a night last night," I thought, "Hope that's not mine."
We had gone to some dark bar with a lot of stairs going down - all I really recall.
Beer was so **** cheap there and there was always so much of it, one got very drunk easily.
I couldn't even really remember who we met or why we went there.
When everything's a blur in the morning you have two choices:
Feel guilty about how much you drank, lie around, and do nothing or,
Leave it be, try not to think about it, and try and find your passport and cell phone.

We made our transfer at the 22 and rode downhill.
Page looked like she was going to be sick.
Her sunglasses were solid black and I couldn't see her eyes, but her face was flushed and green.
"You alright?" I asked her.
"I'm fine," she said, "Just need to get off of this tram. Feel like I'm going to be sick."
"You look it."
"Really?" she asked.
"Yeah, a little bit."
"Let's get off at the park with the fountain. I don't want to puke here."
"Ok," I said, smiling, "We'll get off after this stop."

We sat down on one of the benches that circled around the fountain.
It was empty and Page was confused why.
"Maybe to save money?" I suggested.
"What? It's just water."
"Well, you gotta' pump the water up there and then filter it back out. Costs money."
"Costs crown," she corrected me.
"Same thing," I said, putting my arm around her, "There's no one here today."
"I know why," she stated, flatly.
"Because it's collllllllld and it's Sunday and only foreigner's would go out on a day like this."
I scanned the park and noticed that most of the faces there were probably not Czech.
"****," I muttered, "You may be right."
"I know I am," she said, wiggling her chin down into her jacket, "We're...crzzzy."
"We're what?" I asked. I couldn't hear her through her jacket.
She just shook her head back and forth and looked forward, not wanting to move from the warmth.
Dogs were scattered around the brown green grass with their owners.
Some were playing catch with sticks or *****, but others were just following behind their owner's.
I watched as one took a crap in the center of the walkway near the street.
Its owner was typing something on their phone, ignoring what was happening in front of him.
After the dog finished, the owner looked down at the crap, looked around, then slunk off.

"Did you see that?" I asked Page, pointing to where the owner had left the mess.
"Yeah," she nodded, "So gross. That would never fly in the states."
"You'd get shoulder tackled by some park security guard and thrown in jail."
"And be given a fat ticket," she said, coughing a little, "Let's get out of here."
"Yeah," I agreed, "And watch for any **** on the way out of here."

We made our way out of the park and down the street where the 22 continues on to the center.
"Let's not go into the center. Let's walk along the water's edge and maybe up to the bridge."
"Ok," I said, "That's a good idea." I didn't want to get stuck in that mass of tourists.
I could tell Page didn't either. I think she was afraid she might puke on a huddle of them.
We turned down a side street before the large grocery store and avoided a herd of people.
The cobble stones were wet and slick, glistening from a small sliver of sunlight through the clouds.
Page walked ahead.
Sometimes, when we walked downtown in the older parts of Prague, we would walk alone.
Not because we were fighting or anything like that; it was all very natural.
I would walk ahead because I saw something and she would either come with or not.
She would do the same and we both knew that we wouldn't go too far without the other.
I think we both knew that we would be back after seeing what we had wanted to see.
One could call it trust - one could call it a lot of things - but this was not really spoken about.
We knew we would be back after some time and had seen what we had wanted to.
Thinking about this, I watched her look up at the peeling paint of the old buildings.
Her thick black hair waved back and forth behind her plum colored pea coat.
Page would usually bring a camera and take pictures of these things, but she had forgotten it.
I wished she hadn't.
It was turning out to be such a beautiful day.

We made it to the Vlatva river and leaned over the railing, looking down at the water.
Floating there were empty beer bottles and plastic soda jugs.
The water was brown, murky, and looked like someone had dumped a large bag of dirt in there.
There was nothing very romantic about it, which one would think if you saw it in a picture.
"The water looks disgusting," Page said.
"That it does, but look at the bridge. It looks pretty good right
Deepak shodhan Apr 2015
I have a cute Vietnamese girl
Shes witty, bright and sweet;
with dimples in her cheeks;
and shining stars in her teeth
Beneath her silky hair
there comes her beautiful eye
God, I love it when her big
bubble eyes are looking
at me
Her breath is like a flower blown, in fragrance and perfume
Her voice seems from the
blissful throne
Where their harps the
angel tune
And when she turns her
dimpled cheek towords me
for a kiss
I lose expression, cnt speak
And take all there is of a bliss! <3
Aztec Warrior  Nov 2015
Aztec Warrior Nov 2015
(Where I worked, they set up TV’s in the cafeteria to watch the continuing coverage of the events of 9/11. I had become known as a sort of poet and many asked me to write something, a poem about 9/11. In the printed version which I handed out to people, they translated into their language the word ‘******’ and into the poem. The company did not like it cause they wanted to whip up the patriotic jingoism and calls for revenge. Thankfully this poem helped to stop this at this factory.)  

911 Thoughts

“Our grief is not a cry for war”
--Artists Network, Refuse & Resist

“..and the poets down here
don’t write nothing at all,
they just stand back
and let it all be”
–‘Jungle Land’, by B. Springsteen

“Beto nki tutasala” (‘What are we doing’)
--Old African saying

New York City 9/11/01:
She walks down the street
peering side to side
showing his picture to everyone who looks.
Tears streak her brown skin
as the reality of his loss
sinks deeper in,
yet searching, as if just looking
will make him appear by her side
an ease the vacuum of why that
echoes mockingly in her heart.
Friends have asked me,
write a poem about these events, Red.
Write about 911,
and the horror from the sky.
Tell us what you think.
Can you give us some hope
that when the dust
and tears
settle from our eyes,
we will still be able to see the sun.
What words can I use to describe
or even surmise all the reasons why.
How do you explain to your grand kids
the war has come home.
They have put us in harms way.

New York City, 9/11/01
Yes the ‘war’ has come home
so many innocents have paid
a blood price for a
globalized monster
grown, nurtured, raised
in the dark soils of the USA.

Southern Iraq, 9/8/01
U.S. and British ghosts
swoop down on a ‘radar installation’
that turns mysteriously into a village.
8 civilians known dead,
many others injured.

Baghdad Iraq. 2/91
Clutching her injured child to her breast,
she flees collapsing buildings
while thunder surrounds her,
she is looking frantically for shelter
from ‘smart rain’
pouring down from the night sky.
Explosions that almost drown out her
Screams for a lost generation;
how do you rebuild a generation?

West Bank / Gaza, Any day
Young comrades pick thru
blood soaked rubble of once homes
looking for survivors of
‘made in the USA’ helicopter terror.
Or picking up stones to fight off
‘made in the USA’ tanks
spewing out ‘collective punishment’
needed for new Israeli settlements.

Beirut Lebanon, 1980
Safely, miles out to sea,
the USS New Jersey
spits out salvo after salvo
painting the city with fire storms.
Thousands die, thousands more
made refugees in their own country
punished for harboring
Palestinian refugees who refuse to
recognize ‘stolen land’
now claiming to be Israel.

New York City, 9/11/01
The view of passenger jets
lingers in our vision.
Over and over they seem to play with,
then mingle with those towers
until only twisted steel,
burnt flesh,
and crumbled cement remains
creating a mass grave.

Vietnam, 1970
The village explodes.
Children running
flesh singed, burnt
as liquid fire drops
from high flying 52's.
******; an English word
which in Vietnamese, Chinese or Khmer
Means DEATH!
(Imagine here the words for death in Chinese, Vietnamese and Khmer.)

Hiroshima / Nagasaki, 1945
150,000 human beings now only shadows
seared into the concrete,
human outlines
that still scream their agony
heard even today by anyone
who doesn’t have selective amnesia.

New York City, 9/11/01
What words can explain the loss
of loved ones, friends?
What words can capture
the vacant look of the black woman
seeking her young daughter
who had her very first job interview
on the 104th floor?
What emotions are left
after the search for loved ones
finds only gray dust and charred stench
whether in New York or:
Baghdad, Beirut, Belgrade, Gaza,
Chile, Guatemala, El Salvador, My Lai,
Sudan, or Mogadishu?
What can prepare you for the
sickening sweet scent of
burnt flesh carried on lazy breezes;
of dust coating everything with
the stink of human blood?


And now there is talk of
And preparation for:
More words that the people of
the world understand all too well:
DEATH! (The words for death in Chinese, Vietnamese, Hindi, Urdu, Ctujarati, and Khmer are not formating when I cut and paste. Imagine them here.)


Every day now the powers that be
prepare us for even more untold horrors;
hype us with red, white and blue views.
Pass on to us today’s NEWS:
“Congress passed new war legislation today”;
“unnamed sources report that”
“a high government official who wishes to remain anonymous”;
“the word at the White House”;
SPECULATIONS: there are 50 governments that harbor or support terrorism.
Several undocumented Arabs have been arrested trying to buy illegal chemicals
INNUENDO: known terrorist are said to have links to Afghanistan.
RUMOR: the next attacks could come as early as 9/22;
Air Force One was threatened today;
terror may come in the form of chemical or biological;
All the conjectures ‘fit to be news’;
Bin Laden is the one, Iraq, Iran,
somebody in the Sudan,
someone, somewhere has to be made to pay.
Conjecture pumped out continuously
why, we got it straight from heaven
so it must be true!


New York City, Aftermath
For many the future is hard to imagine,
uncertainty weighs heavy
like an echo that bounces endlessly
off tenement walls.
Like the way the “WHY’S”
multiply with each official explanation
and grows from whispers to amplified
crescendos of NOOOOOOOO! NO!
Not in our name.
You cannot exploit our grief,
our sorrow for so many lost lives
into your “holy war of retribution”;
into your vision of “Homeland Security”
and more repressive police powers;
into your call for Justice envisioned as an
Americanized world.
The people of our planet
do not need another
unjust war. And yet,
as long as this system continues,
as long as organized greed,
backed up by Washington bullets reign,
these horrors will continue to
rain from the skies.

Afghanistan, 10/07/01
Today the bombing began.
More horror fell from the sky
as talk of even more countries, people
are added to the “suspected list”.
One thing is sure, those hundreds,
thousand who have already died
had nothing to do with 9/11.
How long?
How many more will die
before we put it to an end?

~~redzone 10.04.01~~ (edited 10/07/01)
(written while using the pen name 'redzone'
reposted by Aztec Warrior 11.18.15)
I wanted to add this poem because many have 'forgotten' who actually unleashed the hooror of ISIS, Al Quieda, and the Taliban on the world. Not enough space to go into all this here, but if you are aagonizing over what is going on in the world, I suggest that a visit to will help to understand not only what and what is behind these horrors, but also a way OUT of this madness...
Kody dibble Mar 2015
Racing, blind nights gone weary,
Missing like cold wind, blowin'
Trees, objects of nature caught ruthlessly divine,
Simple cognition or possible chasing lights drowning tears mark moons and mansions alike, in the presence of fire,
The great blind rat lifting it's tail, in disgrace showing motionless mass,
Get the blackness on the Jordan river death urge silently moving like herds of sheep in the hills of Holy

Thousands of nation men, trodden down with sand and mud just to get the right passage of mind and thought
A small Vietnamese girl,
About the size of a...
Nevermind the voices you hear they all come awake and slowly disappear

Droughts of ether alike in tunes I might just do without the rest of doubts hedges lawns and patios
Glazed in passionate flowers
Paradoxical a nebula unhidden,
Slow chasing the candle lit masks
vy Jun 2014
i. throw away the three boxes of
incense sticks that burn your eyes
when lit. When your father asks
you where they went,
tell him,
they’re a firehazard.

ii. before you board the bus, rush
to the bathroom. dump out the
mi sao your mother made
for you.
repack with lunchables and fruit roll-
ups. hide your wooden chopsticks.

iii. rip the buddha necklace off
your chest. with the imprint of the fat
man digging into your left palm, raise
your right hand and shout, “I’M NOT
A BUDDHIST. my mother was.” to the peers
think all Asians are Buddhists and
all Buddhists are Asian.

iv. When they ask you why ‘Vy’
rhymes with ‘bee’ and not ‘my’,
tell them that Vietnamese and
English are two different
languages. But remember to
apologise for the inconvenience.
Look forward to this question for
the rest of your life.

v. If a substitute asks, “Sorry
if I pronounce this
wrong but is Vy [rhyme with
eye] here?” Do not duck
beneath your desk. Do not
correct them. Tighten your lips
into a smile, look them in the
eye and raise your hand,

vi. avoid going shopping with
your parents, they will ask you to
bargain with the cashier on
how the lettuce ball s a bit too
small to cost three dollars, and
that they should take off a
dollar. when you refuse, they will
try to communicate in broken
this is your cue to wait out front.

vii. when graduation day comes
and your entire family wants to
say no. it is not important.
it is important. but your
grandmother will tell everyone that
you are the first, to step foot
into college. avoid
this embarrasssment by telling them
graduation is cancelled.

viii. instead of taking pictures with
your “fresh off the boat” family,
borrow Kelly Tran’s, whose
parents are hip and cool and let
her speak English
at home.

ix. are you Chinese?

x. are you Japanese?

xi. are you Korean?

xii. Are you Asian?

xiii. what kind of Asian are you?
… American

xiv. You are not Vietnamese-
American. there is nothing
American about you except your

xv. make sure you choose the
furthest college away from home,
where your mother won’t be able
to send you white rice and
kimchi, among other foods that
your white roommate can’t pronounce.

xvi. no matter where you go,
someone will ask you to “say
something in your language”
they say
"your language"
because one,
they don’t know what language
you speak, two,
they don’t know how to
pronounce it. they just
assume you speak one
besides English.

xvii. when your mother calls
while you have company over
and asks,
"con co nho me khong?", pretend
you don’t understand. take a
glance at the people around you
and firmly reply, “mom i’m
busy. i’ll call you later.” lace it
with enough conviction to fool
wandering ears but with less
compassion so that your mother
knows not to stay up late past three waiting.

xviii. tan your skin, bleach your
hair, forget your native tongue.
remember the boys who leer,
grabbing their crotch, whispering in
your ear, “i’ve got yellow fever,
can you cure me?”

xix. stand in front of the mirror.
open youtube and search, “how
to get rid of an Asian accent”
because no matter how western
you look, your mouth will speak
"duh girl likes pissa" instead of
"the girl likes pizza".

**. schedule a plastic surgery
appointment, fix your nose, jaw,
and monolid eyes. people will
try to stop you, “you are perfect
the way you are! there is no one you-
er than you!” laugh at them.
inform them, “the looks of me is
not what society want people to be.”

xxi. pick up the phone. dial
home. hang up. do this five
times. after the fifth, you will
have convinced yourself that you
don’t miss them. it is just the
alcohol talking.

xxii. before you sign up for this
read the fine print. in addition to
losing your identity, you will lose
yourself. becoming a child of
corrporate America is as easy as it
seems. you just have to let go of
your humanity.
Glen Brunson Nov 2013
I could run away to you, world.
drink in your every scent, the dust
the hurt.

backpedal through Venetian streets,
high-five Buddhist monks,
paddle softly through the Dead Sea,
eat Vietnamese fish with blind children,
pound out piles of dough in back-alley German bakeries,
kiss the single root of an aspen tree
and post it all online.

grinning like a devil, silently screaming
*my life is better than yours
my life is better than yours
Ugo Jun 2013
In the burning right hand of the bald city,
denizens frame calories and count instagram blessings
while beacons of hope refund inspiration in USADA *** cups.

Abyssinian maids wail over yesterday lovers
who wore Ginsberg’s skirt with less  pizzazz
and watched bedbugs **** blood off knee caps
wondering, what if Jesus Christ drove a Nissan?

As bullets of paragraphs fall Vietnamese pesticides on my head,
The dusts off my breath sing homilies
With letters of broken leather whiskey,
For even in the most dishonest jest,
clandestine toothbrushes are overrated
and every first false lie is the only truth.
Lucky Queue Oct 2012
I want to go back, back to my New Orleans
This place that I call New Orleans is actually Louisiana
But still, the gorgeousness of this dirt and grime
The live oaks stretching over the 6-lane wide streets,
Touching leaftips, making a canopy over the passerbys
Crepe myrtles showering streets with lacy pink faerie dresses
Smells of beignets and seafood fill the French Quarter
Intense, consuming, warm, loving sun burning through your shirt
In New Orleans to say horses sweat, men perspire and women glow
is to be ridiculous.
In New Orleans everyone sweats like pigs.
As for the grime I mentioned, this exists mainly in
the sidewalks cracked by live oaks which make an adventure of every walk down the street
And in any semi-deserted street
To have a Mardi Gras or St. Patrick's Day without a parade and citywide party is to toss aside traditions and the New Orleanian way
The New Orleanians are welcoming, hearty and heartwarming, tough and unafraid to talk to a stranger on the streets.
An old black man once greeted me with 'konichiwa' as I walked past
A middle aged white man once struck up a conversation with us as he realised we had shared the same ferry earlier in the day
An old asian woman conversed familiarly with our family at Cafe Du Monde simply because we are Vietnamese as well
A teenaged white boy waved at us as we drove past him jogging
A different old black man stopped and serenaded my siblings, mother and me with his trumpet just because we smiled
Several young mothers and women have stopped my mother to gush  over my siblings and me, usually when we were very small
I, myself, have given directions to a tourist or two, lost near Cafe Du Monde or the levee,
And I hope that the warm smiling spirit of the Big Easy will remain forever immortal.

— The End —