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Manoa 14.1 (2002) 20-21

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from dust and conscience (book of the familiar)

Truong Tran



every word of every image is a step towards the end this urgency dictates that the sentence as we know it no longer an option grammar is obsolete stories once told in detailed chapters have been reduced to a noun and a verb the father dies the lover leaves in search of his own ending perhaps now the writing can finally begin


when looking for my father's grave site we asked that it be beneath a tree in a lifetime of seeking refuge from country and language and life itself he would have wanted it this way


that love could stem from the most remote corners of our imagination this is how things are and not how it could or should be that is to say it is not enough that a fruit can be ugly but to also have it be pickled for added sourness this is beyond the cruelest cruelty that is to say this is a story devoid of morals it can be told in the breath of a sentence the span of a lifetime that discretion is left to the one telling the story [End Page 20]


i am reverting to that voice not capable of telling stories in place of the narrative that voice takes on a child's declarative i am the father i am the son i am the lover i am i am the voice that existed before there were stories stories for the telling the voice that speaks in cryptic tongues the voice that insists on saying i love you and hearing it as i you love


to end without ending on this preposition really i've tried to no avail for translated i am considered not whole of fragments and shards translated i am a shadow of


Truong Tran was born in 1969 in Saigon. He and his family emigrated to the United States and settled in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is the recipient of poetry fellowships from the Arts Council of Santa Clara, the California Arts Council, and the Creative Work Fund Grant. His first collection of poems, The Book of Perceptions, was a finalist for the Kiriyama Book Prize, and his second collection, Placing the Accents, was a finalist for the Western States Book Prize. His poems in this issue are reprinted from dust and conscience (Apogee Press, 2002). He lives in San Francisco, where he teaches writing.



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