Tam Nguyen is an emerging Vietnamese writer and multimedia artist,
based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

son, says


son says the fetus of a son
you are nothingbut your mother's son
becausecountless prayers have poured into you


sonsays the forty-year-old mother
as the baby slid out from her wombcovered
in the bloodof her ancestorsboth outside
and inside


sonsaysthe buddha
sonsaysthe sky
his mother honors both but her son
was made of either


son says his four-month-old mother
wrapped around her mother's arms inside
a bomb bunker outside the blood was shedding from dying peasants
she smelled it in the air thinking how much it resembled her menstrual blood
before her baby's carriage while assuming her child
was warm inside despite the sources of heat were indistinguishable


no bloodshed inside the bunker the bunker is a womb


son says the riot
son says the war
son says the grandma
son says everyone's buddha
says everyone's sky


you have made it here today


son, says the sun in his mother's
favorite folk song tình cha ấm áp như vầng thái dương
the father's love is as warm as the sun


son, says the twenty-year-old son
even the sun shrinks our shadows down at its peak—


thus it's no one's sun thus there's no one's sky
but the land has always been ours

it's called nationalism


son says the father not "con trai" but
the confucius manners of a man—


son, says the father
there is a disease that is worse than
your great grandfather's friend's agent orange
you don't wanna be caught up in it

it's called homosexuality


son says the son
that disease is in your blood ever since

whose blood is it?
is it the peasants'?
is it his mother's?
is it his mother's mother's?
is it his mother's mother's mother's?
is it his father's? his father's father's?
is it his land's?
whose blood is it?!


son says the mother's strangle she never committed
whenever the son went spoiled she wished she had strangled
him when he was still an infant


did her mother want to strangle her when she went spoiled as an infant?
did her mother's mother's want to strangle her when she went spoiled as an infant?
did her mother's mother's mother's want to strangle her when she went spoiled as an infant?

would they have literally strangled their daughter if she was literally spoiled as an infant?


son says the sky
son says the buddha


your mother's prayers were only half-way through you


son says the son
stunned by the smell of too many bloods—
please pardon the mother

mother says the son
please pardon the son


son says the sixty-year-old mother
while still praying for a shadow that looks like him


son says the son
you are nothing but your mother's son and never enough

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