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HOLD ON ngọc loan trần

2017


hold on This collection writing is largely new. I’ve compiled pieces I’ve written since the start of 2017. Some pieces have been re-written many times and others more spontaneous, I am including to let go. I’ve said every year since 2014 that I wanted to put out a zine or small chapbook. This has been particularly challenging; especially after dealing with allegations of plagiarism and then only being able to write political articles after the suicide deaths of so many queer people in my life. As I’m coming out of and going through yet another period of deep personal, political, and spiritual upheavals; starting therapy; living alone for the first time in my life without family members or someone I’m dating; figuring out what it means to live a life that does not quiet fears but instead greets them—I need to really get to doing the shit I say that I want to do. Historically I’ve written a lot of prose with poetry being sort of the medium to use when I don’t know how to write. The past few months have been transformative and my relationship to poetry has changed quite a bit. I’m looking forward to exploring this part of my writing with more intention. As the world around us changes dramatically, violently, rapidly, the challenge to be specific about who we are, who we want to be, and who we want to become in the company of ourselves, of others, of loved ones, of community, of the spirit of revolution becomes more and more ripe for the picking. Everything in this collection is deeply personal and political. Thank you to those who continue to hold me, hold on, and hold tight. I give special embrace, shout out and love to some of my favorite weirdos, writers, artists, and kindred spirits: Addison, Cox, Zaina, Minnie Bruce, and Nicole – who all have done things big and small to convince me that revolution isn’t anything without a little poetry and magic. with the kind of love you all have taught me, loan


victory sleep life in america uprising birthday wish the last days of us as for me loving in times of fascism when my parents kiss daddy's girl sleep paralysis aries: this is it deep sugar to be possible choices 2017 opening up where we belong


victory when we win the scabs on my heart I have picked will have scars crying tears of joy I may not have always been good but I know that I have always tried.


sleep in the belly of the beast i am imagining love inside of a machine which tucks us in bed with promises of safety and refuge the big flag covering our bodies still too small to hide away its crimes. our heads sink into pillows deeper than contradictions, these are millions of restless murders to be avenged. they started a war today convincing us to try for sleep first.


life

in

america:

coming

to

america

coming to america. here in america. we are here in america. working in america. finding love in america. falling out of love in america. fighting in america. believing in america. getting fooled in america. pulled under in america. drowning in america. restless in america. arrested in america. suffocated in america. jailed in america. trapped in america. stuck in america. departing in america. splitting in america. parting in america. caving in america. folding in america. shrinking in america. hating in america. birthing in america. lied to in america. changing in america. dying in america. killed america. coming to america. welcome to america. this is america. here we are in america. life

in

america:

refuge

fire

There are fires every night that long to hush at the sight of rain; in every house, on every block peering out the window looking for friends; the cops buck back before water touches the street; these fires sin looking for what can soothe and leave them alone. It does not rain often enough.


life

in

america:

translate

this

Go to work, go to school, park your car, eat your breakfast, dry your laundry, wash your hair, open your beer, have your weddings, cook your dinner, buy your clothes, trim your nails, read your tabloids, pick your fruit, clean your house, blow your nose, pick up your medication, check your mail: in English. life

in

america:

fuck

john

lennon

Imagine John Lennon turning in his grave because in some plot of hell he is being reminded that he was no secular saint. Imagine why our joy comes after the deaths of wretched, mediocre white men. Imagine one day a world human enough to let me let go. life in america: yes, i am a communist Yes, I am a communist. You should be too.


uprising we lose the city beneath us and i am praying for rain to wash the cement of blood memory from the top of the hill we are yelling for loved ones on the other side of the cement barricades i cannot do much but remember telling a dying people to stop running and slow down.


BIRTHDAY WISH

the plane takes off a day after your birthday so you are meant to celebrate but this party is a funeral your arms are hunched and crossed over your knees you are buckled in for safety while the flickering lights on the wings mock candles everyone at this viewing is perplexed that beneath the airline's name on your ticket, you've etched an ending for a tombstone the world above shrinks just before piercing the clouds everything and nothing feels close as you toss and turn in your white casket crossing the sea each year nothing can be worse than remembering your own death.


the last days of us evidenced across oceans our dead littered on the sea floor rested final breaths in planks of wooden boats now rotting with idents of war i see lifeless and there is but starlight left for search and rescue my people lost themselves out there i do not rejoice i do not cry knowing there is no time for their bodies to be alone i know instead of the shores they touch the moon over and over and over and over again still these tears taste fresh in my mouth left salty and dry.


as for me the world doesn't owe us poor folks anything. on most days, we know about rich people and think to ourselves besides our health, they can keep their wealth: diamond gold cash oil. it is enough for us to move across moon turbulent oceans with two suitcases and a box of ourselves we can fill slum one bedrooms with all our motions. then sleep on air mattresses in silence. when we know we don't have shit we remember the left and right palms we were born with. our hands cover our faces when the rich folks gargle at us their indifference like spit. we manage at the end of the night to let live. like everyone else there are laundry days and pay days. we make ourselves feel better by saturating the rent in detergent. we may trip over our laces up the social ladder but can say with pride the dollar we gave away was the last we spent. we fluff our own pillow: at night we can smile in our sleep.


when we get a seat at the dinner table we pick at our food and clash the silverware. managing to make ourselves wide eyed like the rest of them. made do to stick to what we plan to get full on even when what we ordered came out wrong, we rarely send it back. our mouths are full of stories overflowing the chest at the end of the bed. we make ourselves laugh with little treasures and then we fuck through the night just for pleasure while our bones don’t creak like our beds, even our bodies are rusty with tears. the world doesn't owe me anything. so long as i know we aren't spinning in bed dirty, the kind of dirty you can’t wash off with wealth.


loving in times of fascism my homeland comes to me in the form of a woman soul barren she meets me in bed and leaves the rifle by the door her scarf on my vanity we make love all night her body is full, supple her breasts perky, skin browned and sticky with sweat fistfuls of her hair in my hands it is hot and pitch black she falls into my skin with ease we sink into the mazes underground above us paddies and beautiful swamps of sacrifice become our periphery i can swim in her with my eyes open and breathe the dirt she teaches me that her lungs are not of steel, just of earth we wrestle with the crises of our times and the exhaustion of how our beautiful meets but as if anticipating tragedy we must part when her body rests


i watch the rifle all night while she sleeps my eyes water and i’m convinced to not wake up in the morning unless the face i see is hers.


when my parents kiss after my parents fought with their fists in the middle of the night i would hear a kissing so eager it picked up a force to open their hands wide revealing the foreign tender flesh of palms. i knew they wanted to convince themselves another life where they did not have to fall asleep with the tv on muting each other’s heavy sighs of grief or each other’s knuckles cracking when the kissing ends.


daddy’s girl you are 8 peed your pants at the pool hall waiting on your gambling father to take you home you are used to smoke bonding in coffee shops back rooms with card games late nights and mom waiting on her shame knowing weekends spent meant empty banks some blank checks even bruised eyes over drunk feelings somehow you manage an incredible patience the only rage brewing about wet jeans not yet questioning how love could exist


between daddy chasing dreams of rich with stockpiles of beer and daddy’s girl not too far behind you are not 8 anymore you giggle with tears in your eyes at the odor of this life sticking to your skin.


sleep paralysis stuck in my body the sensations tingling without much direction. this is unmoving. there is science to the moment the brain resists itself sleep and wakes without the consent of the body. it seems to last forever. like the moving pictures in your head you see when you think about unmoving, about the things that trigger a confusion of the space around you: being 4 taking off all of your clothes and leaving your bedroom in the middle of the night in a daze you walk into the kitchen your parents are surprised past your bedtime and without clothes they move out of the apartment a month later. being 7 sitting in your brother’s closet watching him and white boy jarret show each other their penises and you’re sure they know that you are there but silence and ignorance are friends who share faces after that jarret stopped coming over. being 11 sleeping in a toddler’s bed in your parents’ bedroom opening your weary eyes to guns pointed at their heads men in masks who have made you


invisible your blinking does not make it less real the guns don’t drop as you walk towards them. being 12 packing up the first house your parents bought together and writing a note for the door to your brother we miss you, we’re moving into this blue trailer, it’s nice. wishing that the tree that fell into your yard when you were 8 had crushed you instead of this loss. stuck does not rule out movement to want to speak approach comfort and of course to wake. here the brain resists itself sleep acting without consent it lasts forever in the memory of the body inviting motion confined to the space unmoving.


aries: Do not convince yourself you are misunderstood. It is a disservice to all that you’ve done to listen to yourself—including the parts you hide away. You will always have the memory of the body even if the brain disagrees. You know who you are yet you are too stubborn to believe that all parts, parts messy, parts tender, parts soft, parts mean, parts tough, parts calloused, parts broken, parts mended, all parts: yours. Do not convince yourself you are misunderstood when you know taking on the world means taking on your own. Storms are not always fun. They are not always worth it. And they do not brew on their own. You do not always need them to reveal what you need to know. If you must love, love yourself. Behind whatever rough exterior you have built for this next phase of your life, there is softness that cannot be salvaged unless you remember when things become ruins because of you: you become part of it. Do not wait to understand what any of this means until you cannot have what you want.


this is it your hands: rough where skin touches paper when you mark your words into writing; messy where cuticles reach upward when your nail beds grow ridding itself; strained where knuckles puncture space when you open yourself to close you let the pink hot of your heart sink into the lines of your palms fall with the flakes of dried skin curl with broken finger nails but there is no escape the sinking is just a build up like calcium spots that are neither weak nor strong they are just there like the red spot on your index finger


you were born with hands closed tight a fist holding on or holding in to yourself just a little longer when your skin is dry you feel it deep and there seems to be a cycle no grooming could end your hands make sense of the world dry, cleaned, calloused, hot, shrunken, swollen, blistered by shedding itself.


deep sugar caterpillars already have it in them to be butterflies when they get full of the world they explode their insides ready to be reborn the craving their deliverance a glutton for change pieces of their dna signaling to the other a time to connect i do not always know if i already have it in me when i get full of the world sink into myself sweat bullets of my insides that stick together like deep sugar it is a slow process


a rhythmic search i want to believe starts and ends in the morning with a rupture as soon as my eyes open returning self to self the pieces already there deep sugar settled


to be possible between the aisles that so poorly disguise the crisis of overproduction through red white and blue cardboard boxes i search for you and the sensation of familiarity i see you and smile for the first time just barely with the corners of my mouth curling upward, pushing the faint hairs of my mustache into view, just in case i am wrong about looking for you searching for you even in a grocery store is seizing every opportunity to remember to be queer is to be possible, even with just ourselves a moment of relief comes when you smile back each first time is confirmation that we are what is real our abundance cannot be shelved.


choices isn’t it something how we give of ourselves to the world the most precious, tremendous, and beautiful parts of us and save the painful, the heartbreaking, the brooding, the dark pieces for ourselves isn’t it something how the world gives of itself to us the most precious, tremendous, and beautiful parts of itself and saves the painful, the heartbreaking, the brooding, the dark pieces for us only when we so choose to receive it isn’t it something how between the world and us there are choices


most precious, tremendous, and beautiful most painful, heartbreaking brooding, and dark to always give what is good even when we don’t receive it ourselves


2017 they came for you and i closed one fist and said no in the morning they’ll come again looking for my other hand that which hung onto your tender fingers when they come back maybe you will have chosen to stay to say no for yourself with both hands in mine our fists stronger interlocked closing the space between us with love instead of fear.


opening up this is a start: my heart peeks through its own weeds like soil getting ready it sees the grittiest parts dust off and become familiar again in the spring wind of your colors: blue which softens even water orange which glitters more than light honey which is simply sweet wherever it shades it is not summer yet and in this body eager to say hello are berries and peaches waiting on me between lingering thoughts of you i am sure of my impatience like fruit begging to be picked by sunshine their roots digging in the dirt to open up what still may be tight in the rain.


where we belong this is the side we choose the side which fights & screams the side which lives & loves the side which writes & reads the side which teaches & learns the side which struggles & falls the side which stands & holds the side which breathes & pauses this side which loses & wins this is our side that chooses us. this is our side that chooses us. this is our side that chooses us.


fuck donald trump.

HOLD ON  
HOLD ON  

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