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M?ng-Lan’s poems “Quick Question” and “Ode to Sesame Seeds” zoom in and out of spaces of desire within and outside of the body–in the “bones,” “everywhere,” “on rice,” and elsewhere. The poems seem to reflect the poet’s experience in tango, as the lines dance on the (virtual) page, the repetitions add music, and the language is seductive and voluptuous.

Quick Question

action in lies
no action without lies

is there life – inside
these bones is there life in not-editing?

darling i am without you
i am with you

everywhere it is blossoming

a liver a life lived
through the sieve

are you mine?

or do you have many lovers?

there it is i’ve said it
in more ways than one
there it is the glue holding everything together
not a mistake

how you moved your hair bursting over your shoulders a spray of water

& how you held me

Ode to Sesame Seeds


in my quietude i see you vast far ranging springing out

abundant grainy diverse benneSesamum indicum

internal yet outwardly basking in sun

inside thousands of thoughts spring thousands of your seeds
that bring to thought

purposeful with your many purposes

i sprinkle your seeds on rice everything i eat

how to endure time
without your nourishing seeds?

how to be clear as the earth without clinging to the sand?

flowing through my hands like water
one seed clings to my palm

atom spinning sterling you are a teardrop

i shower you on rice sprinkle you soy sauce in salads sautés

will i completely understand your filamentous
yearning pouring forth?

a desert without water without you
sands of sesame seeds all about us

your kisses the oasis where
my soul drinks

your caresses the waves
where i swim trying to find myself

in memory
of your caresses i find you a single seed

M?ng-Lan , poet, writer, multi-artist, multi-instrumentalist, composer, singer, dancer and teacher of the Argentine tango, left her native Vietnam on the last day of the evacuation of Saigon. Winner of a Pushcart Prize, the Juniper Prize, the Great Lakes Colleges Association’s New Writers Awards for Poetry, she is the author of eight books and chapbooks, the most recent of which is One Thousand Minds Brimming.

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