Three Poems by Xuan Nguyen


               Who are you, who are you,
                            I am a man who will become God.
                                           No, not Christ—who is Christ to a man raised Buddhist? 

                             God, I say, in the same way some people say Human,
                                           it is a species; some people become Human,
               I will become God.

                                                             To become divine, 
                                                                              you have to bring God inside you.
                                                                                        No, not through fucking,
                                                                            though that is one form
                                                             of possession,

              I mean through consumption.
What do the Christians do? The wine is the blood of Christ,
                                                                      and the bread his flesh?
              If that’s wrong,
                                             I don’t care to know

                                                                                                     I am a learned man,
                                                                                                                                   (or mostly a man),
                                                                                    but there are things even I disdain to know.

A snake once said,
            The kingdom of god is within you
because you ate it.*

                                                                                                                So I’ll eat the kingdom of god.
             What else could you call the folk who live on this earth?



             six feet under,
                             I wonder, I wonder what I would’ve turned out like,
                                           had my parents’ hearts been full of spite,
                                                          instead of nothing for me, nothing. 

II. I want to be honest with you, Severin, can we be honest?
            If you can tell me the truth. Plain and simple.
I am not plain, and I am not simple, and–
            You are not honest. Try for me, just try. 
                        Just once.

III. I never had the chance to be honest.
                                                                                                                   IV. I was fed and watered until
                                                                                                                   the fathomless age of five, at which
                                                                                                                   I had a bag of raw potato, a single 
                                                                                                                   tomato, and flour from the mill.

                                                               If I couldn’t figure out how to eat that, I wouldn’t eat at all.
                                               I was not alone, but I would be the only one to take the fall.

Even still, even still,
               I wonder what it would’ve been like,
                                              had I not been a knife
who developed a taste for–
                                                                                           Meet me for dinner dear, the usual place?
                                                                                                         Never fear–you need not worry about what 
                                                                                                                        that bitch said about you.

                                                                                           Except it was true, it was always true.
And it was always being said.

Of course we won’t take a child to a restaurant.
No, no, not even a child we want,
And I was not that child. 

My sister was.
                             My sister was cherubic, 
                                                           and I wanted to love her,
                                                                                        I wanted to love her more than I loved myself,
so I could see what my parents saw,
instead of something I wanted
to rip red, raw,
                                                              but of course, I didn’t.
                                                                             LOVING WAS A SONG I NEVER LEARNED,
                                                                                   loving was a task I felt unearned.

V. And I never knew it until I met you, Severin Lacandola.
My lingering fetter, this is my love letter:
                                                                                                                                               I See you.



[CN: Suicide attempt]

I. Medicine is not a place where the ill can thrive.

              Only the strong survive. 

                             Pity he couldn’t meet the demands.
                                                          That man had the Lord’s hands.
(Lord, what Lord
               I am my own,
                              and any Lord of yours,
                                            means little much,
And it is such 
that I am: 
                             Lord of the Butterflies, 
                                           Lord of the Moths-Who-Have-Eyes,
                                                                        I am WEAK+DIVINE.
                                                                                                                                    Believe it or not,
                                                                                                                     I will take what is mine.

II. I died once in the hospital.

They cut inside of me,
Just to see.

Something kept blurring their imaging, they’d still  
                       not gotten used to medicine without machine, 
                                                                              instead being forced to rely
                                              on Celestial 
                                                                            Amadeus Ex, 
                                                                                                           They liked to say in medical school.

I would date: Ravens, Stags, Beetles, 
               really anyone that could wheedle
their way into my eye.

I would be perfectly kind,
but I couldn’t conceal
               which part deigned to dine

on the most forbidden fruit.

They knew better not to root
                              inside the sublime.

III. Hands sloshing through 

all of it a liquid,
               shining like mercury,

Couldn’t help but to take it.
How were they supposed to know 
I wouldn’t make it?
                                           The lovers knew.
Unlike the surgeons on the operating table. 
My death, they’d say, was just a fable.

IV. Do not presume to ask me why.
              Like the cat, I have nine times to die.

            I had used one already, as a boyling,
strange thing,
            Oh, he will only misfortune bring.
                           And once declared, so I brought it.
            Foolish of my parents,
                                         to ever have fought it.
Unlike my parents,
My sister loved me.
                No matter how many times I led her into the woods–
more than nine, let’s leave it at that–
                she would never cry, and she would always come back.

                              The woods behind the house,
                                                                               little her, like a louse,
                                                                                             were ever-blooming
                              in shades of rose, forget-me-not, and lavender,
                                                and I would tell her, Let’s pick some bluebell,
                                                                                             Let’s see what the fairies sell,
                                                                                             but in her life, she never saw a fairy.
                                                Am I the fortunate creature,
                                                                                           or is she?
                              Me, oh my, oh me.      

              Just as I was determined to leave her behind,
                             Mother and I would always find
                             her in the same ring of iridescent mushrooms,
                                                                             in front of the same luminescent tree,
                                            that was never the same tree,
                                            but she and I were not you and me,

Severin Lacandola,
Neither of us then could See. 

The fairies tried to eat her once.
               It was their gift. It was their Hunt.
               And every time they fattened her on
                             goblin fruit, they gave her the gift
                                             of haruspicy, a better gift
                                                                                                                                                    than you or we
                                                                                                                                     could fathom. The gift
                                                                                                                                     of divinity.

IV. Diviner Lacondola,
             Tell me:
                            Do you see where this is going?                    
Amadeus, you don’t have to–

              I say they tried,
                            because they didn’t.

                             V. After the Wild Hunt, 
                                                         it’s a celebration.
But the killing blow
               is a cessation
of sound.

                When I reached the fairy mound,
I’d caught a breath of silence,
and a spray of blood–

               It was everywhere, the flood
of it covering cheek and face,
gown and lace,

                               And even the leaves alone,
             they were not spared this own
Horror, I thought then.

                                           I wouldn’t, now.
Amadeus, don’t–

                                                                                    I SAW THE FAIRY PUT HER LIVER
                                                                                                 INSIDE OF HIS MOUTH,
                                                                                                              AND THEN WITH A SHOUT,

I ate it.

VI. I ate nothing she could live without.
                            and I died for the first time that night.
                                                                                                                                      If it had taken,
                                                                                                       it would have been without
                                                                                        The Fairy Sight.
I wouldn’t have seen what it’s like
to find the green.
                                                                                        I wouldn’t have seen the world or its wonders,
                                                                                           my flesh sundered 
                                                                                                                        in two, for this,
for you.

VII. The time on the table had been
                                             Time Three.

                                                                                                            The second time was me.
                                                                                                                       I DO NOT REGRET 
                                                                                                                                     TAKING POWER.
              THE WAY I DEVOUR
                            THE NEWLY DEAD,
                                         THE DEAD WITH HEADS,

                                                                                               THE DEAD WHO FOUGHT TO LAUGH
                                                                                                                                              IN MY STEAD.
                                                                                                                   I regret only that you had to see it.

IX. A bird is a bird is a worm,
                                           upon the firmament of the kingdom of heaven.
I hold heavenfirm. 
                                                                     And I will not be the worm.

So you see, Severin, lilylove,
If you’re going to kill me,

Remember that you are the hound:


* “Love is choosing, the snake said. /
The kingdom of god is within you / because you ate it.”

— Margaret Atwood, “Quattrocento”


Xuan Nguyen is a writer and artist who does music as FEYXUAN. They focus on the intersections between transgender identity, divinity + monstrosity, and stigmatized mental and physical health. They consider the creative process to be one of making mirrors. When not writing, drawing, or producing music, they can be found hanging out with their princess of a Siamese cat, drinking cold Viet coffee, or wondering what it would take to make a work like Revolutionary Girl Utena. They can be reached through their website at or on Twitter @feyxuan.