It is inevitable.

Sometimes we break     

Like teeth and promises   

Bones and hearts.   

Branch and ground.

Chaos and code.

Habits and faith.



Sometimes we break open

like pods and doors

dawn and silence. 


Sometimes we break apart

sometimes we break down. 


We are just pieces getting ready to 

Disassemble ourselves into a fire.    


The future won’t have us in it. 


If my ancestors taught me anything

It is that fire creates new life

An affirmation to let go,

To make way for something else to shape, to take

on something that we have not felt before.


Maybe a new sound or one that you have always craved for like,

Sunrays stroking your skin.

Maybe a new song.

Maybe a new feeling

or a different way to understand

what we have held once before

only now, 

its heavy is new,

its angles indent differently on our palm,

its colors 

its smell, a little bit familiar and reminds us 

of home. 

Home has a simple recipe.

Some call for more laughing parents than canned meat,

Some call for cups and cups of giggling grandfathers in bouncy castles

Dashes of hand-holding 

Peeled Korean drama marathons

Handfuls of lullabies once forgotten 

And bowls of cut fruit, spilling over, handed to you with luscious words like, 

I’m sorry

or sweet juicy ones like,

I love you. 


But sometimes the ingredients are hard to come by, 

and you’ll have to go look. 


Float to the surface of your first memory

When you were in water

Scraping scales with the naga

It left lines on your torso

to keep your secrets

to remember your purpose after you’ve sprouted feet. 

Listen for chocolate honeycomb.   

Sweet buzzing that swarms across your chest

And warms your belly.   

And lights up fauna and flora

transplanted here, from your motherland. 


Be the water they’ll need to survive in this strange soil. 


If your well becomes dry, I invite you 

to timewalk with me 

to that moment when first you laughed. 


The unnecessary amount of time you took to consider 

how many butts a buffalo might have

(One is not the right answer.)


Come and timewalk with me

To contemplate how many oceans live inside the heart. 


Every time I break, I trace the root 

of my thumb    

Fly around with mudpuppies  

Shuck out of my water body 


And dance forward into myself. 


When you reach the edge of the sea  

Or hunger at the cusp of a vision, 

Let a dragon fruit sing you home. 


Related Opportunities

Accessibility in the Arts
what can + should be
VIA Samir Knego


Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay
Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay is a Lao American writer. She was born in a refugee camp in Nongkhai, Thailand and immigrated to Minnesota in 1985. Because of her unique background, her work is focused on creating tools and spaces for the amplification of refugee voices through poetry, theater, and experimental cultural production.

​CNN’s “United Shades of America” host W. Kamau Bell called her work “revolutionary.” Governor Mark Dayton recognized her with a “Lao Artists Heritage Month” Proclamation. She’s a recipient of a Sally Award for Initiative from the Ordway Center for Performing Arts which “recognizes bold new steps and strategic leadership undertaken by an creating projects or artistic programs never before seen in Minnesota that will have a significant impact on strengthening Minnesota’s artistic/cultural community.”

Her plays have been presented by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, Theater Mu, Consortium of Asian American Theater Artists, and Theater Unbound. She is a Playwright's Center and Theater Mu fellow in playwriting, a Loft Literary Center fellow in poetry, a Loft Literary Center fellow in children's and young adult literature, a Twin Cities Media Alliance fellow in public art, and an Aspen Ideas Bush Foundation fellow.

Her poetry, essays, plays, and short stories can be found in the Asian American Literary Review, Massachusetts Review, Jungle Azn Magazine, Rubin Museums' Spiral Magazine, Journal for Southeast Asian American Education and Advancement, Saint Paul Almanac, as well as on coffee sleeves (Coffee House Press) and on metro transit (Saint Paul Almanac).

She's received creative grants from the Jerome Foundation, Bush Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Forecast Public Art, Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, and the MN State Arts Board, and elsewhere.

Keep up with her @REFUGENIUS.

Artist photo by Joseph Foreman
Jerome Rankine
As Editorial Director, Jerome is the keeper of Pollen’s editorial voice and vision. He works with Pollen’s talented stable of writers to produce stories that entertain, enlighten, and invite readers to take action. Jerome spends a lot of time hunched over keyboards--either editing the latest Pollen feature, or composing music in his home studio. He’s active in local politics, less active on social media, and more active in his kitchen.