Poems and Texts



My seven-year-old face pressed onto the serene eld of my mother’s back As she rode her motorcycle through the red earth
Flanked by rubber trees
With arboreal nipples pouring out alabaster
Blood cells—its viscidity meant to Pipe out the clothesline
that hung my breath
while trying to fold my saliva into a socialist shirt
After the sun had dried out my mouth
And my face not a place for blood transfusions
I held my mouth open
To receive the aromatic rain of rambutan & coffee beans
The wind tossing & turning as my mother circulated us around a curve My mother’s hair ipping through the pages of the air
The rubber trees tall and skinny
Whose backs wouldn’t break very easily
My mother rode me on land coated with rambutans
Rambutans were like little ball hearts growing red hair
The earth of Long Khanh was swollen with such cardiovascular beauties
My little heart was a little engine
Of red earth—the streets of my childhood were walking to & fro
There were times though when the Viet Cong
Came through my grandmother’s grapevine

“My Socialist Saliva” first appeared in The Old Philosopher and was first published by Nightboat Books.

Photo Credit: Scott Indermaur

Vi Khi Nao

Vi Khi Nao is the author of Sheep Machine (Black Sun Lit, 2018) and Umbilical Hospital (Press 1913, 2017), and of the short stories collection, A Brief Alphabet of Torture, which won FC2’s Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Prize in 2016, the novel, Fish in Exile (Coffee House Press, 2016), and the poetry collection, The Old Philosopher, which won the Nightboat Books Prize for Poetry in 2014.  Her work includes poetry, fiction, film and cross-genre collaboration. Her stories, poems, and drawings have appeared in NOON, Ploughshares, Black Warrior Review and BOMB, among others. She holds an MFA in fiction from Brown University, where she received the John Hawkes and Feldman Prizes in fiction and the Kim Ann Arstark Memorial Award in poetry.

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