Stacey Tran

Excerpts from Soap for the Dogs

from CATCHING FISH WITH TWO HANDS

(Banana leaf blower)as read by Vi Khi Nao

Quail egg white
eyes unraveled


Yellow heart
pile of gravel


The body
washes
the body


Chest open
barrel full
of arrows


To walk away
unplagued


Adult man
pours milk
into beer mug


Satisfaction


When you look
to smell fresh


Kneel beside
a glass case
filled with wet grass


Sit with how
it is heavy
to come


Beside the lake


Incense burning


A clean call
from a country
where death is
a wedding gift


Dragging knife
along dotted line


Time yourself
clapping
underwater


from FAKE HAIKU (1)

as read by Teresa Nguyen

Our dense growth does not overlap
You hand me a custard apple
Engraved, my initials glimmer


You dear wild
Sweet bull’s heart
My softest watch


Asleep on a broadleaf
Flowering several eyelashes to catch
A hammock strung between two bridges


from FAKE HAIKU (2)

as read by Soleil Ho

Intimacy fails
At the absence of my body
You touch your own body & become butter


I recognize myself in the oncoming season
A clipped cattail at dawn
Nonspecific melon cubes


Do not clasp the stem while the flowers are still yellow
A new double high found between cracks in pavement
A harvest nested in each bite


HOW THE GARDEN WILL BE USED

as read by Angie Chau

As she drove, my mother spoke her grocery list to me so I could write it down: nước mắm, thịt heo, rau muống, tương ớt gà… It was her way of teaching me the difference between xương (bone), sườn (pork ribs) & xuân (springtime). My uncle asked which language my thoughts form in, was it one or the other. What does it mean to have a way to say one thing in one language but not another? How do I convey exactly how red? The word for garden is the same as to rise up but it is a different song.


MANIFESTO

as read by Isabelle Thuy Pelaud

a bird bathing outside the chapel

                 caught in an act of self immolation

         not a gun but a glass

             a pen so small in the hand of the page

whose knuckles wrap around

     a minute casually — lifting

             a sprig of thyme

               broken between hooves of water
— an hour a sliver

         — in caslon & jasmine tea

             — I’m reading a version of my mother’s narrative

predating her own

     — told from a younger

first person’s point of view
               in one world the first number is unlucky

in another part of the world one must marry on an odd numbered day

                 — who became so obsessed

         printing flowers all over our dinner plates?

— who manicured them neatly

     on the tips of our 10 lives? — who cropped the

elongated cuff
                 away from the red sky — the fury

     a drawn curtain

             — wine cooked down to an island shade of blue

a slight mist of a stick on a string

               blowing the well-water its reminder of safety


STOCK PHOTO

as read by Julie Thi Underhill

In my dream last night my father & I were together, walking along a vast winding public garden made of concrete, the walls endlessly lined with lush red bougainvillea. He was smoking cigarettes (which he quit cold turkey as soon as my mother became pregnant with me). He was young & old at the same time. He laughed out loud. He told me I could do whatever I wanted to do in love as long as there is love. We drove in a car like we did when I was young, my feet up on the dashboard & the sun hitting my knees. The shadow of trees moved fast as we passed them on the highway. He was smiling the whole time he drove, looking out into the distance ahead of him. I wonder if this was a vision of my father without trauma. I wonder if this was a version of him that is possible for me to experience.


SWIMMER

as read by Dao Strom

We push through what lies [——] In front of us [——] Tremble [——] As erasure of thirst [—
—] Salt cures need [——] Only the tipping of the bowl ever so [——] Slightly to see what hap-
pens when a tilt [——] When she said soda [——] My teeth hurt [——] Maybe so sweet it falls
[——] Through fire [——] Alone tying your shoes [——] This is home [——] This is yours [—
—] This is where my children will run away [——] Too & ignite [——] An incantation in my
name [——] Pushing through [——] Sage in all corners [——] Noodles getting cold in a bowl
so big [——] Never overflow only run [——] Dry [——] Here [——] Absorbing [——] Absolv-
ing [——] Which bell would be smallest [——] Most delicate to swallow [——] Walk away [—
—] Held between fingers legs lip [——] Pedestrian solitude comes with a pairing [——] Like
long silk pants [——] Worn by girls to school [——] Clean [——] Caught in the wheels of bicy-
cles [——] Crossing train tracks [——] Not foreshadowing the flag wasting [——] Upon a
shadow of a wave [——] A held bet [——] A piece of gold string [——] Sewn in the hem of
you [——] One way to treat thirst [——] Swim in soil which plants the root [——] Turn away
from the past that hurt [——] You nurture [——] Repel [——] The drop of you [——] Rain on
a rose


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