if there are any heavens my mother will(all by herself)have
— E.E. Cummings

David Baker: Whale Fall

I read all the poems from Baker’s Whale Fall, but I didn’t fully get them. For example, I like the vibe in “Extinction,” but I am not sure what he’s talking about:

When you are gone they will read your footprints,
if they still read, as they might a poem about love—
wandering in circles, here and there obscured,
washed out in places by weather, sudden landslide.
Keep walking, pilgrim. This is your great tale.

I need to keep learning about poetry by reading more poetry.

Street of Dyers

Coming home early in the morning,
I heard withered cats

behind the sycamores, the canal rushing
from a different century. The alleys

so quiet in this city I never really liked.
The widow with an Hermès scarf tied around her head

walked her ugly-beautiful dogs.
I lived behind a Louis XV door

in a room that imprisoned winter
even as spring was rife outside—

I was not in love, there was nothing to experience.

Richie Hofmann

Dì 9 mến,

Bước vào năm Quý Mão, cháu xin chúc dì dượng một năm dồi dào sức khỏe và tràn đầy hạnh phúc. Cháu rất vui khi nhận được thư của dì. Cám ơn dì luôn nghĩ đến gia đình cháu.

Thời gian trôi qua nhanh quá nhất là giờ đây bận rộn trong công việc kiếm sống và nuôi nấng mấy đứa con. Chúng cháu cố gắng làm hết sức để tạo cơ hội cho tụi nhỏ được có những môn thể thao và để mở mang thêm trí tuệ. Hy vọng sau này tụi nó sẽ hiểu được những giây phút giá trị bên gia đình.

Sức khỏe của dì dượng dạo này ra sao? Tuy con không ở gần dì dượng nhưng nếu cần gì thì dì cho con biết nhé. Điều gì con làm được con sẽ làm. Dì đừng ngại.

Tuần sau là đúng một năm Cậu 6 từ trần. Mỗi lần đọc những bài viết của dì và xem lại những hình ảnh ngày xưa của gia đình mình, cháu không thể nào kiềm được nước mắt. Giờ đây họ Lý chỉ còn lại một mình dì. Dì cố gắng giữ gìn sức khỏe nhé.

Cháu Doanh.

Not the Wound, But What the Wound Implies

Who can say
what the tulips dream
in a hard frost,

the sky as cold
as it is clear
and still unreadable.

Or how pain
decides what stays
in memory, a gift

broken by the time
it reaches us,
silvered, gleaming with age.

Maya C. Popa

An Incompetent Idiot

Money, time, and resources are wasted because of one incompetent idiot. I am so sick and tired of that shit.


I gave myself a baldhawk—a mohawk to cover my bald spot. I have been shaving my head ever since I started to bald. It’s time to do something creative. Worse to to worse, I can just shave it all off and become a monk again.

Nicholas Montemarano: If There Are Any Heavens

I read Nicholas Montemarano’s memoir in one sitting and my eyes were watery. My sister and I went through what Nicholas and Jen had gone through. Our mothers fought fiercely against Covid, but they didn’t make it. I captured my experience through my blog posts while Nicholas captured his through poetic prose—what a heartbreakingly beautiful book.

I cried alone like Montemarano had eloquently expressed:

it was easier to cry alone
and I hoped that no one
would walk past and see me
and I hoped that someone
would walk past and see me
and ask are you ok
I prayed that my mother
would remain peaceful
and free from pain
and would be taken soon
though I didn’t want her to be taken

They Are Building a Hospital

On the field outside my home, a field
hospital, in an actual field, the great American
Oak on one end, the Tupelo on the other.
They have laid white tarp over the boggy grass
and raised a series of insulated tents.
It has blossomed overnight like a dark circus,
machines to dehumidify the air,
cots like dollhouse furniture and intricate
machines to keep alive those whose bodies
are resigned to leaving. An orchestra
of discipline and calculated faith,
of power cords and outlets maneuvered
around trees, of hoping rain holds
and spring reads the room: the human beings
are desperate. They have built a hospital
where, in other days, I walked my dog,
counting no blessing but the one I chased,
who startled strangers on blankets
before stretching on the grass. How happy
I was not knowing how happy, walking
the path along the field’s perimeter,
watching the sky flare its oranges and pinks,
reflect a cool purple off the leaves.
Idling in goodness, letting the mind loose
over the life let it. I thought forever,
did not think, for so much of gladness
was thoughtlessness. Now I mourn
the hours from the safety of my health,
stand a little lost at what proceeds
the mourning. They are building a hospital—
the whir of engines stirs the animals,
a melody, a dirge the robins sing.

Maya C. Popa

Dear Life

I can’t undo all I have done to myself,
what I have let an appetite for love do to me.

I have wanted all the world, its beauties
and its injuries; some days,
I think that is punishment enough.

Often, I received more than I’d asked,

which is how this works—you fish in open water
ready to be wounded on what you reel in.

Throwing it back was a nightmare.
Throwing it back and seeing my own face

as it disappeared into the dark water.

Catching my tongue suddenly on metal,
spitting the hook into my open palm.

Dear life: I feel that hook today most keenly.

Would you loosen the line—you’ll listen

if I ask you,

if you are the sort of life I think you are.

Maya C. Popa

Visiting Whitetail

I took Đạo, Đán, and Xuân to Whitetail today. We arrived around 10:30 am and left around 2 pm. I snowboarded first and switched to ski for two runs. Whitetail has big, wide blue terrains, which were great for snowboarding. Whitetail
blasted snow guns even when the temperature was warming up. We had a great time together today.