when bà ngoại fell ill, the grown-ups asked the young ones to lie about it. just say you cannot make out the doctor’s hideous handwriting, but do tell her she is fine. our lies have made the largest theme park & bà ngoại the only affordable attraction. we’ve been lying forever. it’s essential for our feel-good department. & if you think lying is cruel, imagine a generation of people planting explosives before they get good at crops. there’s enough alluvia to sculpt another body if this one starts to fail, said the magical carp in the river. the thing is lies sometimes require god, which in turns makes them prayers. the thing is we can make a good raft out of it & sail the fuck away from here. we didn’t. so make a prayer, commanded the carp, don’t say i didn’t warn you, any miracle must trim itself to fit a wishful mouth. this morning, i lost track of ghosts & for the first time, trembled before mortality. i used to have a tracklist for things like this. now i don't. & before we know it, we're on a mission for impossible waterways all over again. the carp didn’t lose its magic. we butchered it.
Tâm Nguyễn (he/they) is a writer and independent researcher born and raised in the south end of Vietnam. His poetry, non-fiction, and short story appeared in diaCRITICS, Heavy Feather Review, MAYDAY, Dryland (sin cesar), Softblow, Queer Southeast Asia, and Red Ogre Review, among others. He was solicited for Yale University’s SEAM Special Issue: Translation, 2022, and he was nominated for a 2021 Pushcart Prize.