A Reactionary Tale

Linh Dinh
I was a caring husband. I bought socks for my family.

My swarthy wife liked to wear these thick woolen socks that came
up to her milky thighs.

I had a lover also. People could see me walking around each
evening carrying a walking stick.

My most vivid memory, looking back, is of a pink froth bubbling
out of my infant's mouth.

Not everything was going so well: one morning, malnourished
soldiers marched down our tiny street, bringing good news.

When good news arrives by mail, the cuckoo sang, tear up the
envelope. When good news arrives by e-mail, destroy the

When an old friend came by to reclaim an old wound, I said to my
oldest son: Go dump daddy's ammo boxes into the fragrant river.

To reduce drag, some of my neighbors were diving headfirst into a
shallow lake.

We were rich and then we were poor. A small dog or maybe a cat
now pulls our family wagon.

From Black Dog, Black Night: Contemporary Vietnamese Poetry, edited and translated by Nguyen Do and Paul Hoover. Copyright © 2008 by Linh Dihn. Used by permission of Milkweed Editions. All rights reserved.

Linh Dinh