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The Santa Ana

By Paul Tran

Desert born. Wild
     As corn. Dry
Bitch. Itchy clit.
Measure me

     With mercury;
Police with murder rates.
     But I’m neither
Mercurial nor monstrous.
     Everything I touch

Explodes with flame.
     Everything got the hots
For me.
     I’m flamboyant.
I’m a witch

     Still burning
At the stake.
     My red dress
Right off the runway.
     So Vogue

I make you death
     Drop. So gorgeous
I make you drop
     Dead. Jesus Christ.
My winter will last

     Longer than Wintour.
Foehn named
     After Saint Anne
—mother of the mother
     of the Messiah—

I’m the only testament.
     Take my word
For it. For God

     Sent me to Eden.
To Sodom.
     To Southern California.
Like a Real Housewife
     Holding a butter knife

To her husband’s neck,
     God sent me
Here to rinse and repeat,
     To singe this land
Of sin, singing

     That Eagle’s song.
Haven’t you heard me
     Howling down the cliffs,
The dark desert highway,
     Swishing my hips

Into the Cajon
     Like a lovesick coyote?
All thrash. All ass.
     Deep-throat. Whip-
Lash. I bat

     My eyes, and Los Angeles
Lights up
     Like a cigarette. Ash-
Tray to ashtray.
     Angels no different

From Lucifer
     Falling all around
me. LOL. So wow.
     Much merry-go-round.
Very Mary. Go

     Round up
Your little lambs.
     Nothing is safe
From me. Try me.
     Give me the trial

Of the century.
     Give me Liberty,
Or give me Death
     Valley. I want
all the flowers kneeling.

Added: Wednesday, February 28, 2018  /  Used with permission.
Paul Tran
Photo by Chrysanthemum Tran.

Paul Tran is Poetry Editor at The Offing and Chancellor's Graduate Fellow in The Writing Program at Washington University in St. Louis. Their work appears in The New Yorker, Prairie Schooner, and RHINO, which gave them an Editor's Prize. A recipient of fellowships and residencies from Kundiman, VONA, Poets House, Lambda Literary Foundation, Napa Valley Writers Conference, Home School, Vermont Studio Center, The Conversation, Palm Beach Poetry Festival, Miami Writers Institute, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA, Paul is the first Asian American since 1993 to win the Nuyorican Poets Cafe Grand Slam. Since 2013, Paul has taught creative writing and coached the slam poetry teams at Barnard College, Brown University, Columbia University, Hunter College, New Urban Arts in Providence, RI, and Urban Word NYC, as seen on HBO Brave New Voices. Paul is working on their first poetry collection. The manuscript examines intergenerational trauma, sexual violence, and U.S. empire after the Fall of Saigon in 1975. Learn more at their website.


Paul Tran is a Featured Poet for Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness 2018. Visit the festival information page for details.

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