poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

About this poet

Hieu Minh Nguyen is the author of Not Here (Coffee House Press, forthcoming in 2018). He lives in Minneapolis.

Type II

Ignoring the doctor’s red call
                    I swam in the molasses-thick swamp
          of my indulgence, allowed the sugar to ruin

the picnic. The lawn beneath me humming
                    with little invaders.
          There are conditions if one insists

on knowing the secrets of my blood.
                    I know it’s hard to gaze at the night sky
          speckled white & not wish upon

the dead light, but I ask only for your laughter.
                    I ask for all the ways I can remain
          whole & not a vision with missing limbs.

Look at the trees blistering with sap. Goddamnit
                    look at me! Look at me in the old way
          in this new light.

Once I loved a boy, who feared, so much
                    his own sickness
          I never confessed to him my own.

Afraid he would turn, with his worry, my smile
                    into a knife—into a scythe
          covered in ants.

From Not Here (Coffee House Press, 2018). Copyright © 2018 by Hieu Minh Nguyen. Used with the permission of Coffee House Press.

From Not Here (Coffee House Press, 2018). Copyright © 2018 by Hieu Minh Nguyen. Used with the permission of Coffee House Press.

Hieu Minh Nguyen

Hieu Minh Nguyen

Hieu Minh Nguyen is the author of Not Here (Coffee House Press, forthcoming in 2018). 

by this poet

poem

No matter where we go, there’s a history
of white men describing a landscape

so they can claim it. I look out the window
& I don’t see a sunset, I see a man’s

pink tongue razing the horizon.
I once heard a man describe the village

in Vietnam where my family comes

poem

For the longest time, the only memories I had
of that year were of Little Billy from the third floor, floating
dead in the pool & how angry the rest of the tenants were
when they drained & filled it with cement
& how that summer, the unbearable heat dragged its endless skin

poem

The narrow clearing down to the river
I walk alone, out of breath

my body catching on each branch.
Small children maneuver around me.

Often, I want to return to my old body
a body I also hated, but hate less

given knowledge.
Sometimes my friends—my friends

who are always

2