Thursday, May 28, 2015

Poem of the Week: Paul Tran

I Want

TO SAY IT PLAIN. He comes inside
without a sound. I shut the door

I should have never opened. My body
flips over on the bed like a coin

face up. There’s no choice
in the outcome—just blood

sliding down on my knees. I try to speak
but his tongue in my mouth doesn’t

let me. SAY IT PLAIN. He pins my arms
back and makes me call him

DADDY. The ceiling suspends
above me. I feel it shake

each time he thrashes his weight
into my skull. Like a ghost,

I pull the white sheets around me
until I disappear completely. I pretend

I’m not there. I don’t want to look at him
but he makes me. SAY IT PLAIN.

I dig my nails through the seams. I watch
him watch me watch him stroke my hair.

I know it isn’t him but his kindness
that hurts me to the point of death.

I WANT TO SAY IT PLAIN. I don’t know
how else to explain what happened

except to—SAY IT, SAY IT
PLAIN—say it

the only way I can.


Photo by Chrys Tran


Paul Tran is a Vietnamese American historian and poet. He won "Best Poet" and "Pushing the Art Forward" at the national college poetry slam, as well as awards and fellowships from Kundiman, VONA, Poets House, Lambda Literary, Napa Valley Writers Conference, Coca-Cola, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. His poems appear in CURANepantlacream city review, and RHINO, which selected him for a 2015 Editor's Prize. Paul currently lives in New York City, where he is a graduate student in Archives & Public History at NYU and coaches the Barnard/Columbia slam team.


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