Outbound

Past the congested interstate, past the long lines
outside the Dorothy Day Center, past the cheering bleachers,
the steam rising from the coach’s face, the fathers straining in prayer,

past the rusting letters on the marquee, the dim lights along Main,
the couples who will fuck during the movie & the couples who won’t,
past the frozen orchard, past the defaced statue of a saint, a dog

chews thin the leather cord around his neck. The opposite of hunger
is not satisfaction, it is birth. It is what makes a man chisel a face into stone.
It is what drives the body to lie in the fresh snow. It is what quiets the world

when she pulls you in close. It is the winning pass, the crowd too busy
counting down to notice. The world puts its mouth on you
& you don’t say a thing. The world digs a hole in your yard

& it’s up to you to fill it, up to you to find something useful
to do with your sadness. Strange, the yellow beetle, dried
between the pages of the dictionary, staining the page

with its flattened body — its outline, a dirty halo circling
the word pleased — please, you’ve circled the same two blocks in search
of a place to park, circled the yard howling a name that won’t respond,

but you still think you know enough to call that enough?
The boat smacks against the dock it’s tied to. Your mother
fixes your father’s tie before closing the casket.

Everyone you loved refused to die in this town
before they died in this town. The woman beside you
on the plane wants to know where you’re going.

More Poems by Hieu Minh Nguyen