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Friday, May 4, 2012


As published at Dissident Voice, OpEd News and CounterPunch, 5/4/12:

As the FBI gutterpunk division entraps
Five guys with crude haircuts, anarchists
Supposedly, because anarchists are always
Guilty of everything, going back to Haymarket,
And beyond, we need a concrete poetry
For the true criminals to bite on. Eat this.

Or how about a poem that will explode
In the face of the corrupt, even if it kills
The poet as he’s writing it. Swallow this.

As ship lists and drones fly, we
Don’t need poetry as earworm,
But as tasseled cushion for ass
Of Goldman Sachs CEO, to blow
Up his rottenness, we demand

Poetry waterboarded onto the lying,
Smug and top-shelf mug of the Prez,
At a White House soiree, and beamed
From begging PBS, as foreclosed
Citizens cheer while spitting out
Microwaved Chef-Boy-a-Poem.

Funded by the maker of Prozac and Cialis,
American poetry puts you to sleep with a boner.
I mean, shit, you can’t make shit like this up,
So it’s high time for a John Brown poetry to surge
From the flooded basement of our cranium, as
Real John Browns sally forth to retake the real,
Rout nonsense and reclaim our definition.


To think is to act, now, so,
Like any foreign nation, you
Can also be preempted from
Your future crimes. If you don’t
Believe me, just ask the FBI
Agent you’re lying next to,
Under or above. He or she
Can kill you in the dark, in silence,
And that’s no Middle Eastern joke.

Well, then, I’m a thought criminal,
A terrorist, since I fantasize always
About neutralizing the bad guys.
Soon as I close my eyes, I see
Skyscrapers being imploded
And freefalling into their huge
Criminal footprints and scattering
Fraudulent investments and mortgages.

I fancy myself stepping over corpses
Of tax-dodging and looting CEOs,
War profiteers and propagandists,
The ones who keep feeding us lanky dogs
Dryhumping homing soldiers, but don’t show
Those who are killed, maimed or tortured
By these same guys and gals next door.

Dumped from the imperial meat grinder,
They’ll become your police or panhandle
From neocons and libtards, even Occupiers,
And though a terrorist, I’ll give them a buck.
“Man, you’ve been had!” If anything, I wish
I was a better fighter, so I could join other fighters
To combat real terrorists, with their real weapons.



Swza said...

This is great stuff Linh.
"So it's high time for a John Brown poetry to surge"
Hell yeah

Jon said...

It may be because I don't read a lot of poetry, but I'm not clear on when you're being figurative or (if ever) literal.

I'm not convinced that John Brown is such a great person to imitate. Are we really to the point where violence is a solution and not a problem?

Also, who are the real terrorists?


About Me

Born in Vietnam in 1963, I lived mostly in the US from 1975 until 2018, and have returned to my native Saigon. I've also lived in Italy, England and Germany. I'm the author of a non-fiction book, Postcards from the End of America (2017), a novel, Love Like Hate (2010), two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), six collections of poems, with a Collected Poems soon to be released from Chax Press. I've been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories From Around the World, etc. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013). My writing has been translated into Japanese, Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in Tokyo, London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.