All posts filed under: Poetry

The Potomac is not the Mekong

The Potomac is not the Mekong. If I close my eyes, I don’t see eagles on the hunt Soaring over a river The color of muted grey clouds. I see fishermen below, Their bamboo rafts floating On a sunset’s golden reflection, The river shining and flowing Between me and Nong Khai. I smell not Wet pavement And overpriced steak But the aromatic pungent smell Of padaek glazed grilled duck Sold for 15,000 kip. If I cover my ears I don’t hear the deafening rush Of trafficked destined cars On Woodrow Wilson Bridge But the harmonic chanting Of Wat Sop’s saffron monks. I hear the sputtering motorbikes Of young lovers Riding through empty roads, Leaving echoes of laughter And clouds of dust In their wake At dusk. The Potomac is not the Mekong Just another chapter, Some river, In a once empty book. ~~ In A.Ou’s own voice:

Visiting Dad

Sitting in the front seat of Mom’s white 96 Civic. It’s a baking hot Folsom day. Beads of sweat smear across my forehead as I reach to readjust my hair–a matted mess from the almost two-hour-long drive I fight every urge within me to throw a fit. I’m trying not to get restless or bored–we came too far for this. On any other day I’d go through with it but today, I have chosen to preserve my energy. “Vo… Van… Villapan?” the white lady officer stutters. We all get up. Mom flashes a look at her, too weary to correct her again from the last time. “Make sure there’s nothing in your pockets,” she warns me and sis. The seat on the bus sticks to my skin. I glance up at Mom as she she quietly stares off into the distance. We rumble past towering old stone buildings One, two, three… I count the windows, squinting my eyes to see if I can catch a glimpse of anyone inside The bus screeches to a stop …