You Hid Me in Your Basement By Do Nguyen Mai

You Hid Me in Your Basement

Your touch left graveyards on my skin.
They grew rampant as clover,
And smelled just as bitter,
Until dead bodies and live souls
Rooted themselves deep into the hollows
Of my rotting lungs and rotting bones.
I reeked of spores and ashes,
Instead of smelling sweetly like any child should have,
Like cotton candy and sidewalk chalk.

People came to lay flowers
All over the graves of these strangers,
Though they were strangers no more once buried in me,
The voices of every person that spoke my name
The way that you always did,
Like falling snow before it freezes into glacial prisons.

Nobody visited once the night fell –
I think they could see how grey
My complexion had become
From all the stones I’ve thrown
At ghosts for them to build new homes;
I broke my wrists bringing down hammers
On the stakes holding down restless old spirits.
But roses and chrysanthemums
Can’t cover up the stench of a dying body –

The casket of a child
Is too small for so many.

By Do Nguyen Mai


My name is Do Nguyen Mai, written last name to first in the traditional formal style, like the way most Vietnamese poets sign their works. I am a Vietnamese-American student living in the Los Angeles area who spends too much of her free time singing old, war-era Vietnamese songs. More of my poetry can be found at

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