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Sunday, January 4, 2015

Anything Else?


In Philly, there was a man who pushed pills
And performed late term terminations.
Many were born into the toilet, to be
Fished out and killed, scissored
Through the neck. Over decades,
This man killed countless. Those
Who weren’t killed immediately
Had a few minutes of life, but most
Lived for merely seconds, spent
Mostly in their first and last crapper.

Mere is French for mother.
Mare means sea in Italian.

I was dumped from one water
Into another. I went from a tight
Yet vast enough sea, my mother,
Into a public ocean, the toilet.
Lone boat in a shitty womb, I
Learnt how to sculpt tampons, turds
And toilet paper into SOS. Before
I had my first milk, I experienced a
Golden shower. Give it to me, mom!
Because of some unfortunate fucking,
I became inexorably flushable, if only
I wasn’t already too big. I felt a pair
Of firm hands rescuing me, thank god,
But that was that. I stopped seeing.

[Kermit Gosnell has gone down the memory hole, but when this story broke, I wrote this.]



Swza said...

I remember you taking sights like Common Dreams to task after this came out.
It's incredible what can go down in the inner cities due to the poverty of those living there and how their society could care less about them.
Kermit claimed to be a tremendous asset to the black community at his trail. So horrible. Unreal that his third wife was an accomplice.
Why does Vietnam have so many abortions? Catholicism preventing birth control?

Linh Dinh said...

Hi Swza,

Only about 10% of Vietnam's population are catholics, so the church is not really a factor there. What's causing the high rate of abortion is the total absence of any sort of sex education. Also, single mothers suffer from terrible social stigma, so many unmarried women who get pregnant opt for abortions.


Anonymous said...

Another haunting poem.

Swza, it's beyond incredible. I lack words and ability to express my great sorrow to the immense amount of pain they suffer. I try to speak to people about reality, but many people readily admit to me that they would rather live in illusions and fantasies rather than be in reality.

The tragedy is, perhaps like with all tragedies, is that things do not have to be this way. And yet, they are, and with the issue sufficiently separated from us contextually and in distance, it is only the truly insane, who seek these issues and trouble themselves with it. That is to say, Linh, you, Chuck, me, and all the regular people here are insane. We are all truly insane.

In Akira Kurosawa's "Red Beard," there is a hysterical woman who was raped several times as a child. When she became older, she started killing several men before she was hospitalized for mental illnesses. At one point, she tries to commit suicide but Red Beard intervenes and saves her. He then later tells her father, "Your daughter is more and more sane now. That's why she wanted to die. Perhaps it was kinder to let her but I'm a doctor."

Chuck Olroski said...

Swza and Linh:

Back in late-1990s, I got to know my wife Carol's friend, Mary Rose. At time, the latter had a beautiful three year old girl who was born deaf. During a cook-out conversation, I learned Carol and Mary Rose patronized the same young pediatrician who practiced medicine in upscale Clarks Summit, PA.

Quite horrified, Mary Rose explained how this very respected and popular doctor told her that he regretted NOT having advised aborting the deaf newborn. Afterward, Mary Rose wrote a stinging letter of complaint about the ruthless doc to the A.M.A., and she got an Ivy League answer that he's "defending parental interests, family harmony, and has humanitarian concern about world over-population."

To date, Carol and I moved quite a bit, and I do not know what became of Mary Rose's deaf daughter. However, thanks very much for including me among the ranks of the American "insane," above!

Chuck O.

Swza said...

Hi Chuck,
Thanks for sharing that.
I've had my share of interactions with doctors and the story about the pediatrician doesn't surprise me. I've been seen by too many who were all intellect and absolutely no heart. With some I even got the feeling they didn't care for people at all. It seems like if you are a doctor, the most important thing is that you should like people.

Chuck Olroski said...


Appreciate how you identify having observed "too many who are all intellect, absolutely no heart." Likewise, so did I.

Of course there are exceptions, and in contrast to cigarette packages, the language (and deeds) of intellect and science do not come with warning signs about good and evil.

Also, I agree with your goodwill notion that its most important for good doctors to "like people." Oftentimes,after Sunday Mass at St. Ann's, someone will tell me they really liked the priest's sermon.

However,I am cynical, and note sermons have difficulty keeping-up with science and technology.

For example, upon going home, the same uplifted parishioner will watch a football game and T.V. commercials. Soon, a slinky woman in a blue dress appears in promotion of the Viagra "miracle" and the appreciative Catholic no longer needs Jesus's words in order to rise up, do good for others.

Thanks, Swza. How is your name pronounced?


About Me

Born in Vietnam in 1963, I came to the US in 1975, and have also lived in Italy, England and Germany. I'm the author of a non-fiction book, Postcards from the End of America (2017), two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), six of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007), Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009) and A Mere Rica (2017), and a novel, Love Like Hate (2010). 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 Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.