Feature image by Dinh Q. Lê. Untitled (Soldiers at Rest), 2003. Cut-and-woven chromogenic prints and linen tape, 46 x 71 1/2" (116.8 x 181.6 cm). Museum of Modern Art, The Judith Rothschild Foundation Contemporary Drawings Collection Gift. © 2016 Dinh Q. Lê.


why did you bring me here? / i ask / the machine / has a machine family / who assumes i’ve rigged their boy / to do what i want / by feeding him / a coin / fashioned with a string / a yo-yo organ / is what the doctors called it / when my grandmother’s heart fell out of place / & did not / return to its country whole / but who ever does / after leaving / the dinner where his parents tick-ticked boring questions at me / b u t w h e r e a r e y o u r e a l l y f r o m ? / yesterday is the wrong answer, tomorrow too / despite memory, i believe / in hunger / as a way to pass the time / i count the hornets that escape their mouths / for years i laid there & pressed / an ear against the humming / the humming i once mistook for just static / until the stingers / rose from metal water i hear my skin sing / in a frequency made only from laughter / when told, you speak so well / an aubade that calls to me like a grandfather / clock / the machine reassures me that i have nothing / to prove / i am who they think i am / i lace the corset, tight / blend a decimated village into the hollows / of my cheeks / a dirt burlesque / a virus that breached a fire / wall of family portraits / darkening before the embers / tear through / my future / a year composed of bleached wires / where the rain clouds travel back & forth / on a clothesline / i hang his skin / to dry / i lay / his organs on a bed of rice

Hieu Minh Nguyen

Hieu Minh Nguyen is the author of This Way to the Sugar. Hieu is a Kundiman fellow and a ​poetry editor for Muzzle Magazine. ​His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Southern Indiana Review, Ninth Letter, The Adroit Journal, Devil's Lake, The Paris-American, Vinyl Poetry, Indiana Review, and elsewhere. He currently lives in Minneapolis.