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Three Tongue Twisters

Bốn bạn bán bốn bàn bẩn.
Four friends sell four dirty tables.

i. Personal ad

Con chim tim tím tìm
con chó trẻ trẻ.
Con chó trẻ trẻ chê
con chim tim tím.

Purple-hearted bird
seeks
youngish dog.

Youngish dog is
not impressed by

purple-hearted bird.

ii. Dessert

Cô con cần cắt trái cây.
Trái cây cần cất con cây.

Auntie has to slice up the fruit.

The fruit had better hide the children
of the tree.

iii. Breakup

Bồ Bố bỏ Bố hôm qua.
Hôm qua bồ Bố hôn con,
hôn con hôn con hôn con hôn con.

Daddy’s girlfriend left him yesterday.

Yesterday
daddy’s girlfriend kissed me,
kissed me kissed me kissed me kissed me.

 
 
Love Trinkets 
After Marie Howe

1.
One lover was bored and kissed me once
while sitting on her father’s kimono.

One lover kissed me with his mother’s
bridal robe within sight.

One lover was bold and touched
me once behind a door, but it was her cousin
Vandie, the one who never looked at me, that I loved.

One lover was kind, so kind, in kissing
me at all.

2.
Beautiful, wonderful, amazing, fantastic: three-syllable hyperbole when playing the coquette.
Lovely, little, lastly likely: two-syllable hyperbole when listing features to describe the coquette.

3.
Orange-lime sorbet, my first love loved me innocently.
Their father gave them a big-wheel shaped fan
that they never used but which I admired
even though it opened in a clumsy way.
You had to snap it open with pace while dipping it.
You had to force the ink down the way you do with a Victorian pen—
something like that.

One crush and I were one-minute friends.
We watched the clock together on April 16th.

One lover played the trumpet, but I
played the trombone which has so much more real-estate to it.

When we first met, my partner and I scheduled
regular meetings to look at one another.
The earth shook, a portal opened, we stepped through it.

One love and I kissed
under the Tree of Enlightenment
and renamed our children Eva and Eve.
Both girls sit at the right hand of their mother.

4.
One crush and I shared orange slices after
soccer games.
Parents packed sliced oranges
with the rind still on in ziplock bags and kept
them in coolers.

The same crush let me touch him for a long time. The next day I ignored him
until there were other people around
and then I cracked a joke at his expense. But that was normal behavior
because we were always breaking each other’s balls like that.

5.
My new love and I met the other day;
she said to meet her near the water
where we saw the moon that one time:
so corny and so cheesy,
but I love it when she’s
like that. We learned to
catch the trout’s moon whisper.

6.
One crush was an INFP. She said the 46th thing
she ever learned
was that all extroverts and all flirtatious men look like idiots.

7.
My boyhood love and I squirreled away each other’s bodies.
“Let’s play lady.”
In a giant cardboard box of country western clothing
we flashed fans at one another:
Who could be more garish,
who could be more coquettish?

8.
One love enchanted me with their cleverness
and so I loved them the most.
I tried to take a selfie of us once but goofed the whole thing.
“Hold the river closer, Narcissus,”
they told me. “Hold the river closer.”



notes

One lover was bold and touched / me once behind a door, but it was her cousin / Vandie, the one who never looked at me, that I loved: adapted from Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence

The earth shook, a portal opened, we stepped through it: adapted from Danielle Legros Georges, “Intersection”

We learned to catch the trout’s moon whisper.: adapted from Hart Crane, “The Bridge”

One crush and I were one-minute friends. / We watched the clock together on April 16th: adapted from Wong Kar Wai, Days of Being Wild

Duy Doan is the author of We Play a Game (Yale, March 2018), winner of the 2017 Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry, Poetry Northwest, Slate, TriQuarterly, and elsewhere. A Kundiman fellow, Doan received an MFA in poetry from Boston University.

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