say the tongue / is a vessel / to give & receive. say the tongue / is inheritance /
is title / is debt all / at once. say gia đình / say bố mẹ. know / an open mouth
is / nothing / more than mirage. that the noise of crickets / trilling / in the moor
/ is only me / trying to remember / my own tongue / a little longer / & failing.
there’s a harbor / not far away. some nights / I am the widow / on the roofwalk
waiting / for my own return / from sea. other nights / I am the sea / itself
gutting / all / in its wake. come daybreak the sky / so thin / it is sharp. the air
stacks like firewood / like hours, & only time separates / fire & flight. say may
/ say số phận. say you’ll never / leave / again. look: there is water / in
the collection bin though / it hasn’t rained / for weeks / & the plastic ice cream
cartons / I ate from as a kid / are now flower pots: easter lilies / nested in ditch
weeds. so, let / nothing / go to waste. tell me: / can a tongue / be salvaged too?


Thomas Nguyen is a 2017 graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied Neuroscience and Creative Writing. He now lives in Manhattan where he is in his final semester of the Master’s Program in Narrative Medicine at Columbia University. His work is forthcoming or published in the Bellevue Literary Review, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Rust + Moth, and Nashville Review, among other journals.