break free (for bà ngoại)

i carry grandma’s sorrow like i do her last name

and i hold onto resentment from her unforgiven pain

seven decades in a marriage, labor mainly was in vain

while her nation was at war, she fought to love despite the strain

raising babies by the dozen, while her husband was away

offering prayers to the elders, pushing forward day to day

she was faithful, always strong, but her back hunched as she aged

buried a daughter and her trauma to conceal what left a stain

the war pushed all her sons to make their way in a new place

while they toiled overseas, she raised the girls and vowed to wait

walking miles to a prison where her spouse was locked away

when the time came, they arranged, for his journey to the states

at a refugee camp in thailand is where she learned her twist of fate

the man she married had an affair while over there, she still remained

the way her heart had split apart, the ocean’s span couldn’t equate

that if you measured with god’s arms, the size of grief would be too great

in the end, she made it here and they built life on sullied slates

and she’d carry on in quiet, seldom speaking of the ache

but like blood her daughters carry all the shadows in their veins

every overdue apology evolves into self-hate

those who cut never responsible, those who bleed are made to stay

patriarchs not held accountable, only womxn bear the weight

liability be slated for the mothers, aunts, and daughters. 

leaving ghosts for them to harbor for the uncles, sons, and fathers.

and i, i see the shadows

that i am made to follow

like ma and her ma, stifled

they’re stuck inside a cycle

yeah i, i see the shadows

that sit inside the hollow

of my own mother’s sorrow

we’re stuck inside a cycle


said i, i see the shadows

the yesterday’s tomorrow

new record, same recital

gen-er-a-tion-al cycle

if i don’t break the cycle

then life is just survival

my seed will be revivals

she got to break the cycle

we’ve got to break the cycle

i’ve got to break the cycle

for my next of kin to thrive

i’ve got to break the cycle

thy nguyen
heaven can wait

say their names.





i wonder if they know 

that they prepared us to be fighters

that their sticks and their stones

taught us to dare fight the fire. 

i wonder if they know

that we turn broken glass to glitter

that every wave to crash our boat

teaches us how to master rivers. 

if they ever learned how we survive

freedom would finally stand a rare chance

‘cause they’d see the magic that we design

from the soil tilled with our bare hands.

if they ever learned how we stay alive

they might just let go of a little power

‘cause they’d see how it feeds our might

our talent to turn years out of a few hours. 

see, beyonce finds solace

by singing “heaven couldn’t wait for you”

but heaven can wait just a damn minute

when we’ve been patient with days so cruel. 

‘cause nigel was 15

and tyrell was only 20

when they decided their time here was over

they’ve suffered enough and they’ve suffered plenty. 

and blake was 18

and jamel was only 9 

when waking again just ached like hell

and sleeping forever maybe was fine. 

don’t you know the world chews us up

and then the world spits us out

the world’s vernacular comes from our ancestors

but you won’t ever credit their style.

don’t you know we make magic from madness

that we name all of the colors

the world takes after the fashion

of our royal queer and trans mothers. 

we are the holy descendants

we have the armor of brown skin

we are the angels with no heaven 

we are the angels with no wings. 

say their names.





thy nguyen