Four Lu-shihs of War
--after Hồ Xuân Hương, Vietnamese poet,
eighteenth-century concubine and
Name my nights Orchid and my
days Standing in Rain. The sky
will not care that you have lied.
And the poets exploding
like bombs will blossom over
night, their naked names will bring
all liars and insane to
their knees, heads bowed, crying.
Blood blows as sand here. This is
proof of the madness. Is this
enough? Then I will give each
mother her murdered number.
She must walk now past each stake
slowly. Have you, newcomer
heard of my list? Then I will
give your still wet bones slumber.
This place inside you where flesh
is a child stacking cups. Press
each lip to your lips. What was
limbless, spattered, war shattered
grows back, drinks in the warm tea
of youth. Before life gathered
grenades, threw each child down...
in you where flesh once mattered.
In the country of my dreams
no one dies alone. It seems
only now I have caught wind
of my country’s old lies, shot
through as my brothers in the
east are heaped upon each, fought
for what? I have lived my life
as mud, thick and without thought.
Mimi Orem McDonald lives in Lubbock, Texas and teaches at an
alternative school for teens in trouble. She is currently
working on her first collection of poems for publication.