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Image by Udara Karunarathna


the madrigal, volume iii.v

Pham Doan Trang

by Khải Đơn

I first met her in a photo
standing among ravaged farmers surrounded
by riot police

Homesteads collapsed                  neighbors handcuffed
children cried                                 breathless

Years later, she limped towards me
right leg             broken                faltered police

By a leisure coffee she wished to be a guitarist
when there are no more victims of land grabs

Skyscrapers        rise                      penetrating
our eyes in the relentless                                 wealthiness.

She walked into jail when farmers
                    were shot ——

New wealth justifies injustice
By blood

Villages torn         farmers left          land scorched
Her broken guitar hums

Suffocates my ignorance.

Khải Đơn is a second-year MFA student in Creative Writing at San Jose State University and a Fulbright scholar. Her poem was accepted by Orion Magazine for issue in 2022. Her nonfiction piece was published in The Architectural Review, Singapore Unbound. She won the Academy of American Poets/Virginia de Araujo Prize, 2021, at San Jose State University (USA). 

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