The child rides on the backseat of the family’s bicycle and takes stock of Vietnam’s ravaged countryside after the revolution—its people and animals, its landscape and violent history. “The Way to Cái Răng Floating Market” captures the complicated adult world through the eyes of a child—the humming poverty and hunger, the trembling of the land. Geography is destiny, and this fact becomes the child’s identity. She sees her future, and it is the product of a past that she did not help to create.
A stuck sensation—the way fish
bones dig at the throat—
the old woman sings water-buffalo-
herding songs and breaks
the topsoil with a hoe: a rusty tin turns
upside down, a clump
of clay drops to the ground. […]
“The Way to Cái Răng Floating Market” is published in Issue No. 68 of Bayou Magazine, Winter 2018, pp. 86-87. Founded in 2002, Bayou Magazine is a biannual, national literary magazine published by The University of New Orleans. Writing that first appeared in this journal has been short-listed for the Pushcart Prize and named in the notable essays list in Best American Essays.
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.
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]
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]