Kien Lam
Lunar Mansions

It matters where you are born. In a barn

means you are the holy star. Meteor child.


Jesus was the first bomb. Where are you from

is a question I field too much. Once


I said Vietnam and the white man said I fought there.

I loved the country. I love their people.


That’s the day I started to lie

about my birth. In the stable


the horses kicked me from their wombs.

It was exactly like finding a baby


in a haystack. It was snowing

in Michigan when the priest exorcised


me from my mother, said: there is good

in you yet before placing a prayer


for the ground. Blessed America,

there is good in you yet. The moon


doesn’t have to bury any children because the earth

carries so many bodies in the soil. In a casket


people are sometimes born. I have told my origin

story over and over. My parents fought, too.


In Vietnam. They dodged Jesus, who’d

extended his hand. And so I was born


in a lunar mansion—a configuration of the moon

where my face changes in accordance with the light.


Found In Volume 47, No. 03
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Kien Lam
About the Author

Kien Lam is the author of Extinction Theory (UGA Press, 2022 National Poetry Series) and a Kundiman Fellow. He lives in Los Angeles where he writes about professional video game players.