Read the introduction, "The Horse Is Always Running" by Monica Sok.



Vigil For the Missing


On my most nocturnal days, the icebergs
Stop listening to me. They shift their sails

Away from my breathing. They tell me I am
Not made of mirrors but from a wolf that slept

In a grave and gave birth to a sunrise. She is
The fruit that formed me, the dense coat of silk

Shadowing me out of the ice. Sometimes I
Dream in the voice of another empire, and

I see its feet slink through the crosshairs,
Clipping around shells and splinters of trapped

Fires. Its ballroom caves ripple out murmurings
Of the lost ones, despair mottling the dark as

Small searchlights. Lost Ones, who linger
Through a solar rage, I know your pain lives

Cardinal. Love spills from your hallucinations.
Once, a child whispered into me: such sorrow

Can only be followed by a decade of snow.
I crawled into the sky and wept a puddle

Of sweet laurel until I bled at the ankles, until
Grandmother called: come in from the winter.




May the dead        be ever-evidenced

       May their clandestine names
bellow from the mouth        of an August

       monsoon        may they coax the truth
                                   from every storm

       Long ago
              there lived a jungle
     whose only cloth was       camouflage

All those who came to it
              learned the burden of hiding

                                   Long ago        we memorized
the refrains of wild birds

       stitched them underneath
                                          our evacuated skins

Then man        Then soldier    Then vividness

             of saffron and canary
                            arriving as small showers

                  divulging its anatomy
                                   to the ecosystem

To keep the covert buried is not
how this story bends

       The insects have always known

Their lineage of pollen        and the children
                                          of insects know too

May this secret war     its author of poisons

       its professor of counterfeit treaties
kidnapper of honeybees        each iota

of its polluted doing
       may it all burn and blister

                     under its own nakedness



Mai Der Vang's book Afterland received the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets. She is the recipient of a Lannan Literary Fellowship and her poems have appeared in Poetry, Virginia Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. Learn more at