In loving memory of the inclusivity and resilience of Maya Angelou
“Sai Khớp (Disjointed)”
By DAHLIA PHAM
The jade skies
Streaked with filth
Hold no more birds
The map says Ho Chi Minh City
My heart says Saigon
Robbed from me suffocated in the thief’s bag
With lotus petal skin
Her pruned hands sifting
Through the reeds in the paddies
Her midnight eyes-
Hair framing the sides of her faces like the aerial roots of a banyan
Hanging down with tender fingers that brush the stony earth
The explosion of her touch in my weak heart
The drop of a grenade
My knees give way
I escaped with my life
Yet I live as an apparition bound to the barren sands
Where my love, my people, were buried alive
“Help Me, I’m Stuck in My Own Body”
By DAHLIA PHAM
My body is an airtight container.
Within it, my soul pounds at its one-way reflective sides
In an agonizing fervor.
While the pressure rises with the time,
I wonder how long I can withstand this prison
As the weight above me threatens to collapse
To crush my bones into a fine powder
Where my residue will be swept up by the currents
And spread out until the particles fade.
My body is a powerful guard holding me captive,
So I try to starve it of its energy
But my weakness bombards me with ravishing impulses
Seizing control of my being and forcing me to act
Only to hand me the reins back to my being
After my will has been broken and I have succumbed.
My mind is a hopeful parasite that feeds off my sickening dreams
Of another existence I could be living
Mere imagination that fuels me to continue struggling
Even though there is no treasure at the end of that route.
I feed my deluded dream by continuing to live
And it uses this energy to suggest to me a reward beyond a veil
That corrodes my hand if I ever so happen to try reaching past it.
I am a living, hateful creature within this container
With hands too tattered to force the lid to pry itself open.
I am a wretched being, bled and burned
Wrapped with delicate linen that unwinds itself at my feet
The more I thrash about
Leaving my skin vulnerable to the blistering, pervasive light
That shines through all the transparent sides.
I want so desperately to break free and transform this container
Until it ceases to recognize itself and I recognize me
To show that in this hopeless domain, I have some sort of power
Even if it only comes in the form of a short breath
In an insufferably long, slurred song.
I do not know who she is,
The reflection on the sides of this stronghold
She looks at me with empty eyes and I want to destroy her
But she is forever imprinted in material I cannot alter
And my soul sits back and weeps because
The undeniable truth of the matter is that
She is also me
Even though I wish instead; I was born He.
Dahlia Pham is a first year English major here at UC Davis who enjoys satirical writing of all kinds, writing snippets of words that ultimately come from nothing, napping, doodling on free spaces of worksheets, learning new languages on DotA 2 and responding to everyone’s messages. She often wonders if there should be more done with life instead of browsing the internet idly to stare at things. Aspirations include pursuing meaningful work, getting a shiny sticker in four years, not being a leader or follower (but still respecting both roles), not sleeping at 5 a.m. daily and being a true friend. “Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend,” – Albert Camus
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