October 1966:
Twilight draped its ao dai
over the rice fields.
Two American ships patrolled
the My Tho River. A Viet Cong
fleet ambushed them
from behind. Grenades
detonated in the water.
Missiles struck
thermal shadows. Both sides
radioed for help. A helicopter
attack squad called
the Seawolves descended
with torpedoes, blasted
the Viet Cong battalion
until bones couldn’t be
separated from the lilies.
I woke, and there he was—
on top of me, groaning
low like a ceiling fan,
his blades cleaving
the night. I woke and saw
a child with my face
leap into the crossfire,
collecting what remained
of its dead before
the cannibals advanced.

Paul Tran is a Pushcart-nominated poet & historian. His work appears in Prairie Schooner, The Offing, The Cortland Review, RHINO & others. He's received fellowships & residencies from Kundiman, VONA, Poets House, Lambda Literary, Napa Valley, Home School Miami & the Vermont Studio Center. Paul lives in NYC, where he's the first Asian American to represent the Nuyorican Poets Cafe at the National Poetry Slam & Individual World Poetry Slam in almost 20 years.