Becoming Ghost

Becoming Ghost

I unhook the photograph
from its nail,
needle the aperture

& find my youth
history, a washout
of dieting & wedding cake.

In those days,
I dreamt less
of a private bed chamber

and more a future
without smoke.
I sleep on this slab of a bed

in the town of Baler,
in an elementary
schoolhouse rented out.

Coppola asks
that I execute
a facsimile

of an adjacent life––
What a relief
to play the enemy

and to find her
a frightened 22 year old
shooting at a UH1 Huey.

Revenge foretells my living
well. In those days,
I was frugal with words,

opting to hide them instead
like gold poured
into a molar,

or cotton gauze
stuffed into a cheek
to stave off

the rattle
bitten into
my gums.



Becoming Ghost

In Saigon, I wore
my áo dài sidesaddle

on my husband’s xe Honda,
the atmosphere a slurry

of exhaust
& humidity.

My hair dragged like a black
curtain through traffic.

Engines riled,

Already, it’s early.
Here, Coppola dresses down,

shirtless, sometimes, less
fancy director,

more man of the people
gone mad.

The gray waves zipper
along the shore.

Coppola: I want it to smell
like the real thing.

I want to tell him:
the real thing

is a landscape
of work and death –

the names of our ancestors
slack in our mouths,

just the art of loving
your family line enough

to reproduce it.

my father recedes

some stunt double
              itchy for action 

shucks his sweater
              then his undershirt

wraps the plumbing snake

around his hand

and cracks the greased whip
              over his back–


My father, a director now,
              shows him how it’s done:

a pink stripe, a red lash–
              Make them say please.

show yourself!
              slick and white underneath

I want it to smell
              like the real thing!


he bends me over and asks me to call him daddy so i say who? or blocked