Archive for May, 2021

My Phoenix, My Dragon, My Lotus Blossom,
from me & my ruins,
my beloveds,
Ruby, Jasper, Jade, in a dream.

My father died in Vietnam’s last battle,
almost 40 years later,
though I’m still wielding sword & shield
trying to locate the enemy
that poisoned millions on both sides,
including my
Father, Brother, Son &
untold others in unmarked graves, urns,
waters & lands.

I learned to burn incense peacefully
beside my mother before dawn
when I was 3.
When I was 4, my Sunday school teacher
instructed me from the Holy Book
that my mother was going to burn in hell for
worshipping false idols.
I went home and told my mom so.

My body starting crippling at 42
after surviving stage III breast cancer at 31,
no family history, genetic mutations.

My oldest, Dao-Phuong, Phoenix,
became my mother at 14.
She got wounded in the ongoing chemical war—
diagnosed with scoliosis on top of severe asthma.

The enemy is invisible.

Dao-Long, Dragon, at 13,
helps be the man of the house
when I can’t walk or see.

Yet I still try to read Dad’s journal
about the madness and sickness
from the poison.
I wield my sword and shield,
heavy as they may be.

Dao-Lien, Lotus Blossom,
her viscous tears coat
her hot cheeks as she cries
about a day without her mom.
When I mention about a friend,
her first question
is always,
Is she dead?

No child should know
this much sickness
this much death.

I once visited a Zen Buddhist temple,
after he spent some time with me,
Roshi asked—

Why are you attached
to all this suffering?

I was born of a war.
I was a bargaining chip
out of racism in my family.
My DNA was poisoned.
I am a burden to my children,
to whom I’ve passed down
and down and down
this Agent Orange legacy.

Roshi, how could you ask me such a thing?

The question you should have asked—

How do you want it to end?

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