“Down River” by Samantha Lê published in The Journal

A young girl watched her big sister from across the riverbank as she threw their pet dog into the water, where he was carried off and drowned.

His rag body swung
into the swells
of her rage.

The big sister denied this memory, but the young girl insisted on remembering.  And though time marches on, it cannot erase this betrayal that has wedged itself between them once upon a time when they were both still young.

Big sister and I stood
on opposite banks
The phantom stink of water
coated the inside of our mouths.
We tried to gag it out,
but it lingered.

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“Down River.”  The Journal (The Ohio State University), Columbus, OH, Volume 42 Issue No. 3, Summer 2018, pp. 48. The award-winning literary journal of The Ohio State University, The Journal has recently had poems reproduced in the Best American Poetry anthology.  Founded in 1973 by William Allen The Journal has published prominent writers such as Carl Phillips, Mary Jo Bang, John D’Agata, Terrance Hayes, Lia Purpura, Ander Monson, Brenda Hillman, D.A. Powell, Jericho Brown, and Donald Ray Pollack.

“Border Crossing” by Samantha Lê published in The Minnesota Review

In “Border Crossing,” the speaker of the poem laments about being labeled an “illegal.” She remembers a life, before the change in geography, where she was a complete person, “but between the leaving and entering they changed how they look at me—objects once labeled can’t be relabeled, you know.” Somehow in the border crossing, her existence was reduced to one word, a word that carries with it all the weight of past and future discriminations.

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Photo by Dương Nhân on Pexels.com

Border Crossing.” The Minnesota Review (Virginia Tech, Duke University Press), Durham, NC, Issue No. 90, Spring 2018, pp. 14. Publishing contemporary poetry and fiction as well as reviews, critical commentary, and interviews of leading intellectual figures, The Minnesota Review curates smart, accessible collections of progressive new work.

On the Subject of Lust

An excerpt from the Author Q & A session for The Suburban Review #8 on the subject of lust and the poem “Fourteen” by Samantha Lê.

By: Dinu Kumarasinghe, associate editor. 

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On the subject of lust and the poem “Fourteen” by Samantha Lê.

DK: How is lust dangerous? How does youth affect that danger?

SL: Whether it’s a lust for life, art, food, sex, or adventure, lust is one of the main ingredients of passion, which enhances its attractiveness. It makes the palms sweat and causes the heart to beat faster. It encourages risk-taking. I think in every life, there should be a little room carved out for lust. But, lust can become dangerous, especially when it’s given a place at the altar in one’s life, where it manipulates ethics and reason and negatively influences the decision-making process. When this happens, cravings become obsessions, acting as the erosive agent that destroys a person’s connection to the world. As lust spins out of control, the identity is absorbed, and the moral center is set askew. The by-product that this type of lust inevitably spits out is always chaos. No one can live a balanced or meaningful life that’s 100% motivated by lust.

Often, youth calls lust by the wrong name, confusing lust for love, intimacy, sexual awakening or even empowerment. But, without the necessary life experience to act as a guide and an unwavering understanding of the relationship been cause and effect, actions and consequences, it’s easy to lose oneself to such an intoxication. As the result, youth is often exposed to the dangerous nature of lust because youth innocently and willingly puts a mask on such danger and calls it friend. [Read more.]

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From:  “Q&A with Samantha Lê,” The Suburban Review, No. 8, Melbourne, Australia.  Dinu Kumarasinghe, asso. ed., 5 November, 2017.

Desert Places

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by Robert Frost

Snow falling and night falling fast, oh, fast
In a field I looked into going past,
And the ground almost covered smooth in snow,
But a few weeds and stubble showing last.

The woods around it have it – it is theirs.
All animals are smothered in their lairs.
I am too absent-spirited to count;
The loneliness includes me unawares.

And lonely as it is, that loneliness
Will be more lonely ere it will be less –
A blanker whiteness of benighted snow
With no expression, nothing to express.

They cannot scare me with their empty spaces
Between stars – on stars where no human race is.
I have it in me so much nearer home
To scare myself with my own desert places.

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Related Links

“Reeducation” by Samantha Lê published in Pamplemousse Magazine, Spring 2017 issue

I’m honored that my poem “Reeducation” has been selected for publication in the spring/summer 2017 issue of Pamplemousse.   To read the online version, please click here.

“Reeducation” will also be included in the spring/summer 2017 print issue of Pamplemousse, which will be available May 2017.

About “Reeducation

The speaker in the poem is a war veteran trying to reenter civilian life.  Having lost the language of the civilized world, he’s “wordless” and sees everyday objects through a distortion caused by prolonged exposure to violence.  He drifts from place to place, carrying the images and smells of war with him—violence has a way of burrowing in and laying eggs.  My father fought in the Vietnam War and spent a few years in a reeducation camp.  I never heard his stories, but his silence is my inspiration for this poem.  I hope you’ll enjoy it, and that it’ll spark a dialog on the subject of returning vets and their families.  [read poem]

About Pamplemousse 

Pamplemousse, published biannually, was founded in the fall of 2001 by the BFA program at Johnson State College.  The magazine publishes high quality, forward thinking, innovative, and well-crafted writing in a variety of genres and styles.  Issues are $7 each.  [visit website]