Tâm Nguyễn

stardust anomaly

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.

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