Two Poems About Belonging


These are two poems that I’ve written that pertain to feelings of foreign-ness and displacement living as an Asian American in the United States. – Tom Trieu


My parents packed into tiny fishing boats and left Vietnam when they were teenagers.
They snuck through the rivers until they found their way to the ocean.
The middle of the ocean.
That’s what’s so easy to forget.
My parents didn’t leave to America.
My parents left for the ocean.

They floated in the Pacific Ocean for days.
Waves pushed and pulled from all directions violently
back and forth
sometimes under
drifting wherever the water carries

when they found a place to stay in the United States,
they couldn’t shake this seasick feeling.
Waves continued to push and pull them along.
Drifting constantly from this to that side of the Pacific ocean.

This is where I was born and raised
my parents found a way to pass all of this down.
Tips for living in the middle of the ocean.
seasick. homesick.
drifting here and there
in the foreign Pacific Ocean.

Third Place

The itching keeps me up at night
I won’t be satisfied
unless all the skin’s been removed
try to sleep
but I’m always somewhere in between
or alone

in my sleep a sailor took me
across the sea
to an island of foreigners
when I woke up
I felt like that third thing
not where I came from
not where I am
somewhere in the sea
thrown overboard
swimming to that third place
wondering if that third place exists
hoping that third place exists


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