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Mimi McDonald

Four Lu-shihs of War

               --after Hồ Xuân Hương, Vietnamese poet,

               eighteenth-century concubine and

               illimitable woman



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.

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