Lantern Review: A Journal of Asian American Poetry

Bryan Thao Worra



3 tales or so.

I.“To study the soul, study the sword
An evil soul, a evil sword,” the old men warn
from the dim theaters of the glittering Ginza.

How different, the pen?
Those who follow it, the dangerous:
Dreamers of stroke
And spirit.

When they end a matter, it is _________

Grandma’s poetry discovered in an uncle’s box bottom.
Read aloud after twenty years, she’s back at our table. Rhyme. Dream.
For a moment, a comfort like a warm cup of coffee,
What’s left of a carved turkey and a plate of cold cranberries.

III.Some poets we barely name aloud.
We’ve no words to mention them without a fight.

Better a song of the cicadas or wonder why the edge is always windy
Than certain summer lights burning within some ‘since then’
Who view their nephew’s cap askew.

We can revive chứ nôm and laugh over a quaint ca dao.
Who contests a tanka, a writhing line of kanshi, a sassy sestina
Or a smoldering ghazal as a harbor of the enemy.

But those who prod the waves against my burning home,
Can I welcome them, no matter how prosperous my road became?
There are consequences for even an inch of ink, or else words fail, surely?

The pen heals. Preserves. Remembers. Forgives in time, by necessity.
But time won’t be rushed for either small souls or legends, the grass or the trees.