National Poetry Month Day 16: Diana Khoi Nguyen





from Look




parturition. My mother had children, she can never be
childless, unless— Unless.

                                    “Your father he is lazy
look at the lawn. It is dying, look how yellow. I tell him
you make it, you take care of it.” She clicks her tongue
jade bracelet slipping down her forearm.

“He cannot ignore the grass, let it die. It must be intentional
he must kill it if he wants to.” Her accent thick. This

tongue between our teeth, this partition between life and death
not as thick as to a westerner. Her son killed himself.
In the west. Mid-December. He could not stand to go
through another door, he shut the door.

A body dancing on the ground like a bowl fallen off the counter.

Every part strengthens a part. Absence is how many feet apart.

Time comes back to take its watch. Her bracelet
slips. She slips it up again.




With no sound, my brother rose, moonlight washing over
his body. Before him small bottles sat like shadows, cut

            Strange how the dead appear in dreams
where we see them but not where we are. No
partition to cross, but a road to follow, here—

Did he think: “I will never know the end of the dream.”
Does he think now, “I cannot know the end of this dream.”

A neighbor has cut the tree’s limbs so close to its trunk.
So the others grow stronger.

Diana Khoi Nguyen’s debut collection, Ghost Of (Omnidawn, 2018), was selected by Terrance Hayes for the Omnidawn Open Contest, later winning the 2019 Kate Tufts Discovery Award and being listed as a finalist for the National Book Award. In addition to winning the 92Y "Discovery" / Boston Review Poetry Contest, she is a PhD candidate in creative writing at the University of Denver. More from this author →