Issue > Poetry
Paul Tran

Paul Tran

Paul Tran is a Vietnamese American historian and poet. His poems appear in CURA, Nepantla, cream city review, Split This Rock, and RHINO, which slected him for a 2015 Editor's Prize. A Kundiman, VONA, Poets House, Napa Valley and Lambda Literary Fellow, Paul currently lives in New York City, where he is a graduate student at NYU and coaches the Barnard/Columbia slam team.

I Sleep On A Straw Mat

I sleep on a straw mat
like a desert mesa.

A Santa Ana keeps me awake.
Its bone-dry winds whipping

chaparral into flames. The city
a column of smoke. I wake

with my shirt pulled over
my head. Bright red,

it has penguins dancing
in the snow. I think I'm inside

a snow globe. Everything
vibrates: two tectonic plates

colliding at the bottom
of the ocean, magma upwelling.

My underwear torn off. It's not
a dream. The ornamental landscape

a scene frozen in time:
porcelain flakes flooding

the atmosphere, a lead dome
sky false as glycerin

mimicking gravity, flightless
birds twerking without music,

and me—arms thrown up,
detached.

I make snow angels.

This one my father. I lie
inside him. I go back

to sleep. The world outside
continues

to burn.

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